Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Getting to Know Animals through Picture Books

Every so often I'll read a picture book that instantly makes me think of a bunch of other picture books that would make a good connected text set. When it happens with a topic that is both engaging to kids and also connected to curriculum concepts they may encounter, even better.

When I read How Do You Take a Bath? (out today!), I smiled at how adorable it was, but also appreciated how it could connect with science concepts about animals. Even though it reads as a book aimed at a younger audience about bath time with a specific fact about how each animal cleans itself, it also connects well with other recent picture books that share fun facts about a variety of animals through engaging picture book formats with great illustrations.
38398162
Follow elephants, pigs, monkeys, hippos, and more in this charming rhyming picture book from veteran author Kate McMullan. How does a pig take a bath? It sinks in the mud! What about a chicken? It thrashes about in dust! And a cat? Why, it licks itself clean, of course! Sydney Hanson's adorable illustrations toggle neatly between animals in nature grooming themselves and humorous depictions of children attempting the animals' bathing tactics. By the end of the book, the child finally makes his way to the bathtub, no mud baths or lick baths about it! 

After you read this one, consider checking these others out to share with kids in your life, especially those who are curious or love learning more fun facts about animal characteristics.

An important note: These books are all good choices, but admittedly, they are very White. I had difficulty finding picture books I had read about animal characteristics from IPOC creators. We know already from the work of CCBC that there is an inequality in diverse representation in characters in children's literature, and from Lee & Low even more lack of diversity in the authors/illustrators. But with this particular topic, I struggled even more to find any. If you have recommendations, please share them!


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

#classroombookaday + #GRA18 Companion Text Sets

What Pernille Ripp has created in the Global Read Aloud is awesome. And, since I know many #classroombookaday educators are participating in both, I wanted to share some recommendations for picture book companions to tie-in with the GRA titles.
*If you're new to Global Read Aloud, Pernille has a blog post FAQ with video introduction.
*If you're new to #classroombookaday, which I created inspired by Donalyn Miller's #bookaday challenge, I have a Getting Started blog post with FAQs.

What I love is that the #classroombookaday initiative with daily picture book read alouds can still support another initiative like #GlobalReadAloud, and your students can get double the benefit of the power of shared read alouds to build community! We know that the more connections students can make amongst the texts they read helps to deepen their comprehension, so combining the shorter daily picture book read aloud themes of #classroombookaday titles with the larger, sustained themes in the Global Read Aloud books will enable students to deepen their understanding of both and make connections between various stories and universal themes.

The text sets I'm sharing have picture book recommendations that can serve as companion reads with the various options for #GRA18 books. Some of the titles in my #classroombookaday text sets will have a more obvious and direct connection to the themes/topics in the GRA book, and some will be more of an ancillary or tangential connection, but all would enhance your read aloud discussions throughout the month.
#GRA18 Picture Book Author/lllustrator

#GRA18 Early Reader


#GRA18 Upper Elementary / Middle-Grade

#GRA18 Middle School / Junior High

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Picture Book Recommendations: First/Native Nations

I used to teach at the Indian Community School of Milwaukee (ICS). My four years there were a time of intense personal & professional growth for me, and being invited to be a part of that community was incomparable. I was familiar with some traditions of Tribal Nations prior to working there for two main reasons: my grandparents lived in Arizona, so growing up I became familiar with some of the Southwest Indian Tribal Nations names and artistic traditions on a surface level, and also because I teach in Wisconsin where Act 31 requires that prospective educators receive training on the history of Tribal Nations in the state prior to earning their teaching certification. {Here are a few fantastic resources for more information on Wisconsin Tribal Nations that could be shared in any state: The Ways: Stories on Culture and Language from Native Communities Around the Great Lakes, Wisconsin First Nations, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.}
Image result for medicine wheel
Even with that, I didn't even know what I didn't know about the community traditions of various Native Nations before I started working at ICS. As an intertribal school, there is a bit of a blending of the commonalities of several different tribes, but I also got to spend time learning a Native Language (Menominee - though in the 3 years since I've left and not using it, I've sadly lost most of my memory of it), being invited to participate in ceremonies and powwows, and receiving teachings through culture mentoring lessons and activities. I loved my time there and getting to work with students and families in that community and infuse culture into all elements of the work, and am still sad to have left. All of this is to give a little bit of context as to why I may be slightly more aware than the average White teacher about concerning and stereotypical representations of First/Native Nations in children's literature. I also follow Dr. Debbie Reese (Nambe Pueblo) of American Indians in Children's Literature who is an amazing resource for all of us in breaking down representations of Native characters in books.

To be clear: That doesn't mean I won't/don't still make mistakes. That doesn't mean I won't/don't still miss things (especially coming from an outsider perspective, there are things I would never be able to know). This is not to say I don't still have much I can learn. But, I am concerned.

With the realization that this post is somewhat centering my White perspective, those are also the teachers I'm talking to. I am concerned about the number of teachers I see recommending books or putting elements in their schools that are problematic in their representations of First/Native Nations cultures and people or perpetuating stereotypes. But what I've come to realize is that so many educators just don't know (and we could have whole other books about why the systemic oppression and supremacy in this country from its founding have led us to where we are now), but for the purposes of this post, let's just say we all need to do better. Some educators might just need to do more Google searching to find out if there are critiques of books we're considering using (Debbie's blog is a great place to start). And some might need to move past the nostalgia of books we have fond memories of and realize they are problematic with our new lenses of looking at them. And all educators need to remember that we are dealing with impressionable kids and generational white supremacy is an issue, especially when any reference to "Indians" or Tribal Nations is done in a historical viewpoint that erases them as contemporary, sometimes urban, people. Really it comes down to this: We should all be doing our best to learn, grow, become more critical consumers, and get better at this whole thing, while never compromising the stance that affirming the humanity and lived experiences of ALL kids should be at the center of our work.

To help with that, I decided to make a post compiling a few picture book recommendations for using in #classroombookaday read alouds, so I have one spot to direct people to. Because my students' humanity should not up for debate, and anything that works against that should not be in a classroom or library. As Elisa Gall succinctly reminded on twitter tonight:

So I'm sharing some #ownvoices picture books
that present positive, contemporary representations
of First/Native Nations culture and characters and creators
that are powerful books to read aloud with students. 

36711245
A look at modern Native American life as told by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation

The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences. 

Appended with a glossary and the complete Cherokee syllabary, originally created by Sequoyah.
The sun on your face. The smell of warm bannock baking in the oven. Holding the hand of someone you love. What fills your heart with happiness? This beautiful board book, with illustrations from celebrated artist Julie Flett, serves as a reminder for little ones and adults alike to reflect on and cherish the moments in life that bring us joy.International speaker and award-winning author Monique Gray Smith wrote My Heart Fills with Happiness to support the wellness of Indigenous children and families, and to encourage young children to reflect on what makes them happy. 
35429384
Nimoshom loved to drive the school bus. Every day, on the way to and from school, he had something to say. Sometimes, he told the kids silly stories. Sometimes, he taught the kids a new word in Cree.
"Nimoshom and His Bus" introduces basic Cree words. A glossary is included in the back of the book.
34834470
Go on a Mission to Space with Chickasaw astronaut John Herrington, as he shares his flight on the space shuttle Endeavor and his thirteen-day mission to the International Space Station. Learn what it takes to train for space flight, see the tasks he completed in space, and join him on his spacewalk 220 miles above the earth.
39665297
Windy Girl is blessed with a vivid imagination. From Uncle she gathers stories of long-ago traditions, about dances and sharing and gratitude. Windy can tell such stories herself–about her dog, Itchy Boy, and the way he dances to request a treat and how he wriggles with joy in response to, well, just about everything. 
When Uncle and Windy Girl and Itchy Boy attend a powwow, Windy watches the dancers and listens to the singers. She eats tasty food and joins family and friends around the campfire. Later, Windy falls asleep under the stars. Now Uncle's stories inspire other visions in her head: a bowwow powwow, where all the dancers are dogs. In these magical scenes, Windy sees veterans in a Grand Entry, and a visiting drum group, and traditional dancers, grass dancers, and jingle-dress dancers–all with telltale ears and paws and tails. All celebrating in song and dance. All attesting to the wonder of the powwow. 
This playful story by Brenda Child is accompanied by a companion retelling in Ojibwe by Gordon Jourdain and brought to life by Jonathan Thunder's vibrant dreamscapes. The result is a powwow tale for the ages.
34146748
Circles are all around us. We just have to look for them. Sometimes they exist in the most unusual places.
Grandpa says circles are all around us. He points to the rainbow that rises high in the sky after a thundercloud has come. “Can you see? That’s only half of the circle. That rest of it is down below, in the earth.” He and his granddaughter meditate on gardens and seeds, on circles seen and unseen, inside and outside us, on where our bodies come from and where they return to. They share and create family traditions in this stunning exploration of the cycles of life and nature. 
18936752
“I like to eat, eat, eat,” choruses young Johnny as he watches Grandma at work in the kitchen. Wild rice, fried potatoes, fruit salad, frosted sweet rolls—what a feast! Johnny can hardly contain his excitement. In no time, he’ll be digging in with everyone else, filling his belly with all this good food.
But wait. First there is the long drive to the community center. And then an even longer Ojibwe prayer. And then—well, young boys know to follow the rules: elders eat first, no matter how hungry the youngsters are. Johnny lingers with Grandma, worried that the tasty treats won’t last. Seats at the tables fill and refill; platters are emptied and then replaced. Will it ever be their turn? And will there be enough?
As Johnny watches anxiously, Grandma gently teaches. By the time her friend Katherine arrives late to the gathering, Johnny knows just what to do, hunger pangs or no. He understands, just as Grandma does, that gratitude, patience, and respect are rewarded by a place at the table—and plenty to eat, eat, eat.
Writer and beadwork artist Cheryl Kay Minnema is a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Artist Wesley Ballinger, also a member of the Mille Lacs Band, works for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.
34412166
This vibrant picture book, beautifully illustrated by celebrated artist Danielle Daniel, encourages children to show love and support for each other and to consider each other's well-being in their everyday actions.
Consultant, international speaker and award-winning author Monique Gray Smith wrote You Hold Me Up to prompt a dialogue among young people, their care providers and educators about reconciliation and the importance of the connections children make with their friends, classmates and families. This is a foundational book about building relationships, fostering empathy and encouraging respect between peers, starting with our littlest citizens. 
36401874
Set in the Okanagon, BC, a First Nations family goes on an outing to forage for herbs and mushrooms. Grandmother passes down her knowledge of plant life to her young grandchildren.
742125
Tink, tink, tink, tink, sang cone-shaped jingles sewn to Grandma Wolfe's dress.
Jenna's heart beats to the brum, brum, brum, brum of the powwow drum as she daydreams about the clinking song of her grandma's jingle dancing.
Jenna loves the tradition of jingle dancing that has been shared by generations of women in her family, and she hopes to dance at the next powwow. But she has a problem—how will her dress sing if it has no jingles?
The warm, evocative watercolors of Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu complement author Cynthia Leitich Smith's lyrical text as she tells the affirming story of how a contemporary Native American girl turns to her family and community to help her dance find a voice. 
34415917
The determined story of an Ojibwe grandmother (nokomis), Josephine Mandamin, and her great love for nibi (water). Nokomis walks to raise awareness of our need to protect nibi for future generations and for all life on the planet. She, along with other women, men and youth, has walked around all the Great Lakes from the four salt waters, or oceans, to Lake Superior. The walks are full of challenges, and by her example she challenges us all to take up our responsibility to protect our water, the giver of life, and to protect our planet for all generations.

I hope you enjoy these books and find a way to share them with students. And I hope this post has given you something to consider when selecting books with First/Native Nations content and characters, and that you'll seek out information to determine if they are accurate and positive representations before sharing with kids. We can all still learn, and once we do, we need to act with the new information to do better. I hope this list will help you in your efforts.

Waewaenen
(thank you in Menominee)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

When Cultural Appropriation Ruins the Rest of the Book

I don't read books to pick them apart. I read them to enjoy and figure out which ones will work for, and connect with, the students I serve, and to recommend to other educators. But that doesn't mean I can read without a critical lens. In fact, it's a requirement. In the quest to provide more diverse representation in literature, there is also a need to ensure that kids are getting positive, non-stereotyped, accurate representations in the books we share that can build empathy instead of furthering division, insensitivity, and cultural appropriation.

With all of that in mind, I eagerly picked up Mae and June and the Wonder Wheel - with a Black girl on the cover of a transitional chapter book, I knew I had to read it in the hope that my students would have access to more books with racially diverse characters in the forefront at the elementary level.

What I did not expect was to be surprised 40 pages in to discover a large plot point relating to encouraging the main character to arbitrarily select a "spirit animal" to be for the day. I was so disheartened to find this cultural appropriation in a book that had potential to be a solid selection for my elementary library collection. This appropriation ruined the rest of the book for me.

Some context to help you learn more if you are unfamiliar with the concerns about the use of "spirit animal":









So what will you do the next time you come across this in a book? How will you handle it? What discussion might you have with a creator or students who encounter it?

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Cover Reveal: Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog by Lisa Papp

Perhaps you've read this book? (And if not, you should - and share it with your students for #classroombookaday!)
Madeline Finn does NOT like to read. But she DOES want a gold star from her teacher. But, stars are for good readers. Stars are for understanding words, and for saying them out loud.
Fortunately, Madeline Finn meets Bonnie, a library dog. Reading out loud to Bonnie isn’t so bad; when Madeline Finn gets stuck, Bonnie doesn’t mind. As it turns out, it’s fun to read when you’re not afraid of making mistakes. Bonnie teaches Madeline Finn that it’s okay to go slow. And to keep trying.
With endearing illustrations, Lisa Papp brings an inspiring and comforting book to all new readers who just need a little confidence to overcome their fears.

Well, there is going to be another Madeline Finn dog book!
And Peachtree Press is allowing me to reveal the cover to you all!! 

The second book, Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog (coming March 2019) takes Madeline Finn, Bonnie, and Bonnie’s puppy Star to the animal shelter, where they learn that reading aloud to the animals benefits everyone.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
I'm excited to be able to share the cover of this sweet story for the first time today! 
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Those faces! LOVE!! 

And here's my 11 year old rescue dog, Dooley, who is often sitting next to me when I'm reading...and enjoys sniffing books and being read to. 


Friday, August 10, 2018

#pb10for10 | My Favorite Female Illustrated Picture Books of 2018

I always love participating in Cathy & Mandy's #pb10for10 event celebrating picture books and providing many fabulous #classroombookaday choices! I inevitably end up with a longer wish list and shopping cart and a maxed out hold list at my library. So get ready, and then go check out other educators lists today

My choice of theme this year was inspired by some of the conversation happening around #kidlitwomen & gender inequity in children's literature. Especially the disparity in female winners/honors from the Caldecott award. The day after that post, #kidlitwomen posted this chart on the contemporary disparities courtesy of Jeanette Bradley.

This year for my picture book 10 for 10 list, I'm choosing to highlight & celebrate my favorite female-illustrated picture books of 2018.


(I mean, it wouldn't be a top ten list of mine if I didn't fudge the counting a little bit!)

Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse illustrated by Corinna Luyken +
If I Had a Horse written & illustrated by Gianna Marino
ALMA and How She Got Her Name written & illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
Festival of Colors illustrated by Vashti Harrison
Pearl written & illustrated by Molly Idle
Dreamers written & illustrated by Yuyi Morales
The Field illustrated by Jacqueline Alcantara
All Around Us illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia 
Friends Stick Together written & illustrated by Hannah E. Harrison
Mommy's Khimar illustrated by Ebony Glenn
Pipsqueaks, Slowpokes, and Stinkers  AND  Fur, Feather, Fin: All of Us are Kin
both illustrated by Stephanie Laberis

You can see my previous year's #pb10for10 lists by clicking on the year:
20172016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Community Building Picture Books to Start the School Year

I don't want to think about it quite yet, but some start back-to-school sooner than we do in WI, and want time to find and preview books to see if they'll work for your communities, so...
These are some favorite picture book read aloud recommendations to kick off #classroombookaday at the start of the school year to build community in your classroom.


 
Blog design by Imagination Designs