This book is so touching, that honestly, it’s hard not to well up as I read it. I shared this book with my third graders for African-American History Month in February.
Love Twelve Miles Long is the story of young Frederick Douglass, whose mother travels 12 miles each weekend to see him. She works in the corn fields. Frederick works in the Big House. The story begins as she is about to leave to return to her work. She is tucking him in to sleep. Frederick asks her about her long walk back to her home. She tells him that each mile has a special meaning and helps make the journey shorter. The first mile is for forgetting, the second for remembering, the third for listening, the fourth for looking up, the fifth for wondering, the sixth is for praying, the seventh is for singing, the eighth is for smiling, the ninth is for giving thanks, the tenth is for hoping, the eleventh is for dreaming and the twelve is for love. Each mile is another expression of love for her son and hope that they will be able to live together as a family when they are free.
Colin Bootman’s illustrations are beautiful and bring Armand’s text to life. My students study Frederick Douglass’ life and know that he learned to read, became a free man and a great leader. Now they have the opportunity to imagine his life as a child.
In celebration of Earth Day on April 22nd, I highly recommend Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa. I shared this book with my students from first grade to fourth grade. We started our discussion with things we could do to protect the earth. We talked a lot about litter clean up and the 4 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot). This book gave me the opportunity to introduce the importance of trees.
Each page in Wangari’s Trees of Peace has just a sentence or two accompanied by a colorful, simple picture. The book’s simple format makes it accessible to students of all ages and leaves time for questions. The story shows students how deforestation hurt Wangari’s country of Kenya and the value of trees. Trees not only provide oxygen for us to breathe, but also provide fertile soil, protected from erosion, firewood, and habitat for birds.
My favorite part of the book is the way it shows my students that one person can take action and make change. Wangari’s determination, even going to jail to protect the trees, made a big impression on my students. At the end of each class, students clapped for Wangari’s Trees of Peace.
Wangari Maathai was born in 1940 in Kenya. After seeing the cost of deforestation in Kenya, she enlisted women to plant indigenous trees. Her Green Belt Movement resulted in the planting of over 30 million trees by 2004. Maathai won the Nobel Peace Price in 2004.
Happy Earth Day, everyone. I hope we can all make an impression on children that the Earth needs our protection not only on Earth Day but everyday.
I enjoy reading non-fiction books with my third graders. This book is such a fun way to present animal facts. Each page shows the noses, ears, tails, eyes and mouths of five different animals. The fun starts as students try to guess which nose (ears, tail, eyes or mouth) belongs to which animal. Then, we turn the page and read about how each animal uses its nose, (ears, tail, eyes or mouth). Some of the facts, like monkeys hanging from their tails are not surprising. The fact that horned lizards shoot blood from their eyes….and crickets hear with ears on their knees…..surprising!! Don’t miss this fun way of presenting animal facts to children.
I was looking for interesting science books for my 3rd graders and was happy to find this great book by Gail Gibbons. Gail Gibbons has written over 170 non-fiction books. She is great at explaining concepts in short bursts with careful illustrations. Her book topics are wide-ranging including: trains, tunnels and animals of all kinds.
With Halloween approaching and our 3rd graders studying animal adaptations, bats seem like a natural choice for this week. This books begins with general information, including: the fact that bats are nocturnal, that they are shy and gentle, and that they are mammals. It continues information about their body structure, where they roost, their use of echolocation to find food, different types of bats and what they eat.
Our 3rd graders were really engaged as I read. The pages provide just the right amount of information for students to absorb while they looked at the pictures and asked questions. We play a game in my library. Our students challenge my co-worker and me to find information about a topic from the books in our library. Yesterday, our students challenged us to find out how bats land upside down. We were able to find some information on our shelves about how bats land. Today, I cheated a little and found a great video on the internet, courtesy of the New York Times, showing how bats defy gravity and land upside down.
Chris Van Allsburg is a great picture book author that my students love. His books, usually drawn in black and white, which include: Widow’s Broom, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi and The Z was Zapped are always favorites. A Bad Day at Riverbend is not immediately identifiable as a Chris Van Allsburg, because it’s full of color. The way it introduces color makes my students, even the most obedient ones, cry out in dismay.
The town of Riverbend is in trouble. Riverbend looks like a coloring book. Everything is white, outlined in black. Now, something very strange and scary is happening in Riverbend. Lines of color, like scribbles, are covering things. Stagecoaches rarely come to town, but now a stagecoach has stopped in town… without a driver. It is covered in a slimy, colored substance. No one knows what it could be. The town’s residents are scared. What Luckily, Sheriff Ned Hardy is on the trail.
Read this wonderful book to find out what is threatening the town of Riverbend. My students loved the ending!
The beautiful princess kisses the frog. The frog becomes a prince, and the prince and princess live happily ever after. Right? Well, unfortunately, in Jon Scieszka’s fractured fairy tale, the marriage is not one made in heaven.
The Princess is annoyed that the Prince keeps sticking out his tongue and hopping on the furniture. She wishes the Prince would just go out and slay a dragon. The Prince, upset that the Princess won’t hang out at the pond with him, is miserable.
They need a change. When the Princess says she wishes the Prince would just turn back into a frog, the Prince has an idea. He leaves the castle in search of a witch who can turn him back into a frog. He finds plenty of witches in the woods. The first wants to cast a nasty spell on him so he won’t wake up Sleeping Beauty, the second wants to feed him a poison apple so he won’t bother Snow White, one invites him into her gingerbread house, the fourth turns him into a carriage. He escapes from all four witches and sits, lonely, in the dark woods. The Prince realizes that he really belongs at home with the Princess who took a chance and kissed him when he was a frog. So, the Prince goes home to his worried Princess and kisses her. They both turn into frogs and live happily ever after.
This is a fun read aloud for older students who will love recognizing familiar fairy tales, Steve Johnson’s creative illustrations and Jon Scieszka’s funny re-imaginining of the Frog Prince.
The Chinese Emperor is looking for someone to succeed him as Emperor. The Emperor launches a competition. He provides all the children with seeds to grow. The child who grows the most beautiful flowers from the seeds will become the new ruler of the empire.
Ping is a child who not only loves flowers but is able to grow beautiful flowers. When he receives his seed, he plants it and cares for it every day. Unfortunately, nothing grows. Ping replants the seed in a new pot. He changes the soil that the seed is planted in, and still nothing grows. The children around him are all able to grow beautiful flowers. When it is time for the children to present their flowers to the Emperor, they laugh at Ping and tell him that he can’t present an empty pot to the Emperor. Ping’s father overhears the other children and tells Ping that it’s fine to present his best efforts to the Emperor.
On the day that the children present their pots, Ping approaches the Emperor with his empty pot. The Emperor, much to everyone’s surprise, smiles. Ping was the only child unable to grow the seed he was given by the Emperor. Since the Emperor had boiled the seeds before he gave them to the children, not one of the seeds should have grown. Ping was the only child who was honest about trying to grow only the seed he was given by the Emperor. Because of his honesty, the Emperor crowns Ping the new Emperor.
My students loved this ending and couldn’t stop talking about how the other children were deceitful and how Ping’s honesty was rewarded.
North is a beautiful book describing seasonal changes in the Arctic and Arctic migration.
North begins with winter in the Arctic and its year-round residents, the polar bear and arctic fox. When spring arrives, algae blooms, plants grow and the tundra turns green. Animals and birds begin their migration to the Arctic, beginning with the gray whale, terns, bar-tailed godwits, snow geese, white cranes, caribou, walrus, narwhal whales and more. The text describes each creature’s journey, including what they eat as they travel. By May, the ice sheets are cracking, opening new sea lanes for the migrating animals. In summer the Arctic is lush flowers and grass, feeding the many animals that are now living in the Arctc. When September arrives, the animals and birds begin to prepare for their journey south again.
It’s a wonderful way to introduce students to migration. I read it to my 3rd grade students who really enjoyed the book.
The easiest books to read to a group of students are funny books. Oliver Jeffers has written a great book that was a real favorite with my students.
“It all began when Floyd got his kite stuck in a tree…” Poor Floyd. When his kite became stuck in a tree, he threw a shoe to loosen the kite. Sadly, his shoe became stuck, too. Floyd threw his other shoe and then his cat at the tree to loosen his kite. Both became stuck. When Floyd got his ladder, all my students expected that Floyd would climb the ladder to get his kite, shoes and cat. To their amazement, Floyd threw his ladder into the tree as well. 🙂 It, a bucket of paint, a bicycle, the kitchen sink…an orangutan, a BIG Boat, even the firemen who were sent to help all became stuck in the tree. The tree was completely full. So, Floyd got a saw. As you might expect, Floyd threw the saw into the tree as well; and, finally(!), Floyd’s kite fell out of the tree. Floyd, happy, walked away with his kite in hand. In bed that night, Floyd wondered if there was anything he forgot to do. The firemen realizing they might be in the tree for a while, began strategizing about how they might get themselves and everyone else “unstuck”.
This funny and absurd book is a gem. Don’t miss it!
Journey is beautifully illustrated wordless book and uses color very effectively to tell a story of a good deed and its reward.
As I paged through the book for my classes, I could hear my students whispering the story to themselves. Their spontaneous applause when I finished the book matched my feelings exactly. I love this book so much that I’ve shown it to countless adults since first reading it.
A lonely girl takes her red crayon and draws a door in her bedroom wall. The door leads her into a beautiful forest filled with lanterns and lights. There she finds a small stream. She draws herself a boat and follows the stream to a beautiful city. The city could be from medieval times with its stone walls and golden domes. She floats through a city canal. When she comes to the end of the canal, the girl draws herself a hot air balloon. She flies away and sees a purple bird flying away from city soldiers. When the soldiers catch the bird and place it in a cage, the girl steals the bird’s cage and frees the bird. Caught by the soldiers herself, the girl is suspended in her own cage. The grateful bird brings her a crayon so that she can draw herself a magic carpet. The girl follows the bird until she finds a door. When she opens the door…well, you’ll have to read Journey and find out what happens.
This is a book you won’t want to miss and that you and the children you read to are bound to read over and over again.