Exploring Advance Reader Copies with 1st Grade

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I love getting Advance Reader Copies (ARC) of books.  I selfishly enjoy having them for myself to read, but the real joy comes when I get to share them with readers well in advance of the book being released. It’s like sharing a secret with them and creates an extra level of engagement for the story. It also gives me a chance to get reader input on books that might become a part of our library collection.  In the past, I’ve returned from conferences with a suitcase full of books and distributed them to readers to enjoy and offer opinions.

Most of the time ARCs come from publishers in the mail or at conferences.  However, yesterday, I received 2 ARCs direct from author Hannah Barnaby with a special note tucked inside.

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Today, Ms. Skinner’s 1st grade class visited the library for a story time, so it was the perfect opportunity to share the books for the first time. Since it’s world kindness week, we discussed what a kind gesture it was for the author to send us a sneak peek of her two new books. We also discussed how we could in turn offer some kindness back by reading the books, discussing them, and sharing a bit of feedback with the world.

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The first Hannah Barnaby book we took a look at was Bad Guy illustrated by Mike Yamada. The book uses short sentences on each page to highlight the daily sinister deeds of one bad boy.  Many of these deeds are against his sister.  Without giving too much away, he learns that being a bad guy can have its consequences too.

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After we read, I asked the students to think about what they loved, what they wondered, and who they would recommend the book to.  Here are a few of their thoughts about Bad Guy.

What we loved:

  • bad guys
  • bad guys can be good
  • it went back and forth between the characters like a brother & sister.
  • his sister played a trick on him, too..
  • it was like playing a game.

What we wondered:

  • if they had made a trap for each other
  • how his sister made the trap
  • if he was really doing all the bad stuff or if it was pretend.

Who should read this book:

  • people who like stories about bad guys.
  • people who like stories where characters play tricks on each other
  • people who like traps

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The second book we read was Garcia & Colette Go Exploring illustrated by Andrew Joyner.  This book follows two characters who both want to go exploring but can’t seem to agree with one another on where to explore. This results in them taking two different journeys alone. As they explore, they make observations about their world and without knowing it, make many of the same observations.

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I again asked students to think about what they loved and wondered as well as who they would recommend the book to.

Book Title: Garcia & Colette Go Exploring

Author: Hannah Barnaby

What we loved:

  • they said the same things when they were apart
  • the packed the same things to eat
  • both couldn’t do the things they wanted to do.

What we wondered:

  • how did they make their rocket and submarine?
  • did they eat all their sandwiches?

Who should read this book:

  • people who like exploring
  • people who like space & sea
  • people who like the desert
  • people who like to explore alone

Finally, we had some discussion about both books together.  First, should we have these books in our library when they are released.  It was an overwhelming, unanimous “YES!”.  Both books are different, so I didn’t want to pit the books against each other.  However, students did offer some feedback about which book hooked their attention the most depending on the reader.  It was really split between the two books.  The students who preferred Bad Guys liked the trickery and brother/sister relationship.  Many students felt a connection to how the brother and sister picked on each other.  The students who preferred Garcia & Colette Go Exploring liked the adventure and the setting as well as the illustrations of the two inventions the characters made.

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I want to explore more ways to use ARCs with students. Thank you Hannah Barnaby for thinking of us and allowing us a sneak peek at your new books. We can’t wait to add them to our library.  We’ll continue to enjoy them with more classes over the next few weeks.

Bad Guy will be released in May 2017.

Garcia & Colette Go Exploring will be released in June 2017.

 

Kids Can Code with Osmo Coding

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We love using Osmo in our library for makerspace opportunities, centers, and lessons with multiple grades. We’ve had Osmo since it first came out. If you aren’t familiar, Osmo is an attachment for iPad that comes with a base and a mirror that attaches over the camera. There are 5 apps that are used with Osmo. Tangrams allows users to build figures with real tangrams that are recognized on the iPad app through the mirror attachment. Numbers allows users to use both numerals and dots to create different combinations that equal a set number. Masterpiece allows users to draw on paper outside the screen by following tracing lines on the screen. Words allows users to look at a picture and spell a word with letter tiles based on the image. Finally, Newton allows users to create angles to make falling balls bounce and hit a target.

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Recently, they released their coding set.

It’s summer for us, so I haven’t had a chance to use the set with a class of students. However, I was able to hand the set to my 6 year old daughter to see how well she could use it straight out of the box. It didn’t take her long at all to figure out how to snap the various coding pieces together in order to get Awbie, the strawberry-eating monster, to find his strawberries and earn seeds to plant.  Osmo coding has several built in tutorials in the beginning to show users which pieces to put together and as the game progresses, there are signs in the game that show how to add together more complex code. One thing I love is that there isn’t just one right answer. Kids can snap together small or large amounts of code to see what happens without being penalized. They can safely advance the character one space at a time or experiment with making Awbie move multiple spaces by snapping on a number.

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After a few sessions of using Osmo coding, Alora decided to make a quick video to show off the pieces and how they work.

I will say that Osmo Coding has some glitches to work out. Sometimes when you press the run button, Awbie does not do what you have in front of him. Sometimes he’ll only move one space even though you have multiple commands lined up. Other times, you press the run button multiple times and he doesn’t respond at all. However, even with these glitches that I’m sure will be worked out in future updates, the game is engaging and easy to use. It’s a tangible way to introduce block coding to our youngest learners, as well as older learners too, and build up to online coding in other block coding programs.

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I can’t wait to get more sets of coding and explore block coding with our earliest grades in the fall.

Osmo can be purchase at https://www.playosmo.com/en/ with prices ranging from $75-$145 per set.

Coming Soon from Peachtree Publishers: Lilliput by Sam Gayton

 

LilliputSummer is a time for recharging, reflecting, and reading! Each summer I find myself with a little extra time to take a look at my stack of books that are in my ever-growing to-be-read pile.  In May, I received a package from Peachtree Publishers. It was wrapped in an aged box with a book, hot chocolate, thimble, and a letter.  I was immediately drawn to the artwork on the cover of Lilliput, written by ‘Sam Gayton and illustrated by Alice Ratterree.

The cover is filled with many details of characters, events, and objects in the book.  This summer, as I found time to read the book, I often looked back at the cover and understood a little more about the illustration that had caught my attention from the very beginning.

Lilliput is the story of Lily, a Lilliputian, who was stolen away from her home by the famous Gulliver of Gulliver’s Travels. Lily is being held captive by Gulliver while he writes his book of his travels.  She is his proof that the land of Lilliput actually exists.  Lily hatches multiple escape plans to get back to her home, but she repeatedly gets caught and punished for her efforts.  Across the course of her escapes, Lily meets a cast of amazing characters:

  • Finn, a clock maker’s apprentice who is being held prisoner himself
  • Mr. Ozinda, a Spaniard with a famed Chocolate House
  • Swift, a bird caged within a clock
  • Mr. Plinker, an evil clock maker who designs clocks that torture or force people to spend most of their time working rather than having fun

There really is a character for everyone whether you love animals, evil villains, giants, spoiled bratty girls, clever boys, or fairies.  Throughout the book, you’ll find several steampunk illustrations by Alice Ratterree.  I love every one of them!

The book is divided into 3 parts: Escaping, Searching, and Leaving. Each chapter is fairly short, which I love.  Short chapters make me read a book so much faster.  I always think, “I can read one more chapter. It’s only a few pages.” Before I know it, I’m done with the book.  I find this a big selling point for reluctant readers as well.

Lilliput is filled with adventure. You’ll be cheering Lily on as she works with other characters in the book to get back to the place where she belongs.  You’ll find yourself clenching your toes as you read faster and faster to see if this plan is the plan that finally works.  You’ll want to get your own revenge on the evil Mr. Plinker and stinky giant Gulliver.

My favorite quote from the entire book was:

It made me think about all of the things in the world that have held me back and all I’ve done to work to get beyond those barriers. Lilliput will inspire readers to keep trying no matter what obstacles are standing in their way.  Just when you are at your point of giving up is the point where you need to keep trying the most.

I highly encourage you to check out Lilliput when it is released on August 1, 2015.  I can’t wait to recommend this title to all of the Barrow readers when we return to school.

You can learn more about Sam Gayton here.

You can learn more about Alice Ratterree here.

 

Wonder is Truly Wonderful!

I started hearing about the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio a few months ago thanks to Mr. Schu at Watch. Connect. Read.  The more I heard him (and others) begin to talk about the power of this book, the more I wanted to read it.  I was very excited when Mr. Schu gave away some Advanced Reader Copies of the book on his blog.  I’m not usually a lucky person, but apparently I was meant to get a copy of this book because I won the drawing.  Also, as luck would have it, I got sick on my birthday and got to stay home from school.  During my day of silence, I finished the whole book.

I don’t even know how to begin describing this book.  It’s so much more than a book; it’s an experience of immersing yourself in the shoes of someone so unlike yourself.  It’s an adventure, a journey.  The main character August Pullman (Auggie) is born with a facial deformity, and as he says, “Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”  Up until now, Auggie has been homeschooled, but he’s taking the leap of moving into a new school and all of the challenges that come with making friends, attending a formal school, and more, but he faces all with this with a major difference that he was born with.

R.J. Palacio tells this story from multiple perspectives.  I’ve come to realize that these kinds of books are among my favorites.  I love how the same situations are viewed completely different when seen through the eyes of several people and how individual stories weave together to tell a whole story.  The story starts from Auggie’s perspective, and I couldn’t help but want to reach out and give Auggie a hug.  All of my problems in life seemed so small and insignificant after viewing the world through Auggie.  He’s brave, smart, and funny.  I found myself wanting to spend more time with him, so I was a little sad when the book switched perspectives, but it didn’t take long for me to be glad that it did.  I liked getting inside the other characters’ heads and understanding why they made the choices that they made.  I easily made connections with them when I’ve been in similar situations where someone had a facial deformity.  I was reminded of when my wife and I were seated with a man who had a facial deformity on our 7 day cruise.  Every night, we sat with him and his wife and enjoyed some great conversation, and we didn’t once talk about the deformity.  It was a challenge, but I couldn’t help but think how he probably had to explain his face to every person he came in contact with and how nice it might be to just sit and have some normal conversation.  I was glad that Auggie met some of these kinds of characters in the book.

I know great things are ahead for this book.  It’s early in the year, but this is a standout book that is a must-read.  I’ve already ordered our copy for the media center and can’t wait to share it with students.  In the spirit of Mr. Schu and others who are paying this book forward, I’m giving away my copy to a teacher in our school.  I can’t wait to hear what the class has to say about the book!

Guest Book Review: Grandma’s Gift

We are so excited to have teachers participating in our National Picture Book Month Celebration.  Teachers have been sharing books on our morning broadcast show each morning.  Also, Mrs. Kelly Hocking is doing a guest post on our blog today to review one of her new favorite books.  Enjoy her review.

Picture Book Review by Kelly Hocking

Grandma’s Gift by Eric Velasquez

Have you ever read one of those books that just has so much in common with your life that you just can’t believe it?  Well, that’s what the book Grandma’s Gift by Eric Velasquez was like for me.  I picked it up because the apartment on the front cover reminded me of the apartment my Dad grew up in.  I have fond memories of it because my Dad grew up in New York City, and so when we visited my grandparents, we got to go to that big amazing city.  You can imagine how surprised I was when I started to read the book, and sure enough, it WAS New York City.  The little boy, Eric, had a grandma in the city, just like me!  Eric had a school assignment over the Christmas Holiday to go see a painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  My Grandpa worked there as a guard when I was a child, and, just like Eric, I was so inspired by a painting I saw there once that I decided I would go to art school when I grew up…and I did—and so did Eric (in real life.)

Not everything in this book reminds me of myself.  You see, Eric has to translate everything for his grandma.  She is Puerto Rican and cannot read English.  At one point, Eric says he feels like he’s “going to school for two.”  I don’t know how that feels, but that’s why I read books, to try to feel what other people might feel so I can understand them better.  Eric and his grandma feel pretty uncomfortable in parts of the city because no one looks or speaks like them.  They feel much more at home at “ LaMarqueta,” the market in their neighborhood where everyone speaks Spanish and looks more like they do.  Grandma is famous for her Christmas “pasteles,” a delicious Puerto Rican dish that she would serve and even share with all the people in her neighborhood.  My mouth just watered at the description of how Eric and Grandma made the little bundles.  I could smell them in their oven as they baked.  I could swear little puffs of fragrant steam were radiating off that page.  If only I could find that recipe.

That same grandma of mine who raised 7 children (my Daddy being the baby) in a small apartment in New York City once told me to always read EVERY page of a book.  “Don’t stop where the story stops.  There could be a secret just for you on one of the pages about the author or even on the back cover.”  Many times, this little reading tip has led me to my next book.  But this time, it led me to something yummier.  Guess what I found as I went on to read the “Author’s Note?”  I not only found out more about the author (who was really the little boy in the story,) I found a web site that has the recipe for the very pasteles that Grandma and Eric cooked.  You don’t have to guess what I’m making this Christmas to share with my family.  Mmmmmm, I can smell them already!