Franki’s Weekly Text Set-Great Short Read Alouds for Grades 3-6

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!

Read Aloud is one of the best times of any school day! And choosing the next read aloud is always so important. I love a great short read aloud, especially early in the school year. I want to build the Read Aloud routine with thinking and talk and I want engagement and access for every single child. I want there to be enough depth for lots of possibilities for talk. I know these first read alouds of the school year will teach me so much about students as readers. This week, I’ll share several of my favorite shorter length read alouds. Short but with depth and complexity for readers in grades 3-6. These writers know middle grade readers well!

I love every book by Pam Muñoz Ryan and I was excited to see this new one-Solimar: The Sword of the Monarchs . There is so much here that makes it a great book for read aloud. It is a fantasy and I think that it provides a great shared experience to understand how fantasy works. It also has a strong femail Latinx character who has lots of decisions to make so there is a lot to talk about there. An added bonus to reading this one aloud is that it might introduce readers to an incredible author whose books they will want to read independently once they know her!

Too Bright to See was a Finalist for the National Book Award AND a Newbery Honor book AND it won the Stonewall Award in 2021. Every sentence of this book is beautiful. This is the story of Bug, who is getting ready to start middle school. Bug is also grieving–Uncle Roderick recently passed away. Bug is working through so much–grief, friendship, gender identity, and a possible ghost in the house. There is so much love and acceptance packed into this short novel. This is a book I can read over and over because of the character, the story and the gorgeous writing. Lots for young readers to talk about and as always, Lukoff addresses issues of young readers brilliantly.

Harbor Me is an incredible book by Jacqueline Woodson. I’ve read this book aloud with fifth graders and the conversations were amazing. The characters and their relationships give readers so much to think about. The title (Harbor Me) and the dedication (For Lena and Alana, who harbor so many. And for my family, who harbors me.) both give middle grade readers a way to think about the meaning of the word harbor and why it is so important to this story. Often the title gives readers a clue into the theme of a book and by pondering Woodson’s meaning of the word harbor in this story and how it relates to these characters, readers can get depth of understanding.

I think it’s important to include fun reads during Read Aloud time. Maya and the Robot by Eve L. Ewing is fun but with plenty to think and talk about. Who doesn’t love a good robot story. There is so much in this story for children to connect to and Maya is a great character. The STEM thread is great as there isn’t a lot of middle grade fiction that explores STEM ideas. I also think the theme is accessible to this age so it makes for great conversation.

I am a big fan of sharing graphic novels as Read Alouds. Projecting the ebook version on the screen is a great way to experience a book as a community. I worry that so many of our students are reading graphic novels quickly without much support in reading them with depth and seeing all that is there. Reading aloud graphic novels can support a better understanding of how to navigate this format. Swim Team is one of my very favorite new middle grade graphic novels. There are great characters and the history of racism related to swimming is embedded in this story. For our readers who see graphic novels as a quick read, this book provides lots of opportunities to stop, think and talk to read with more depth. I hope this author has more books on the way!

I finished Katherine Applegate’s new book, Odder this week. What a gem of a book. The book is written in verse and follows the life a Odder, an otter who lives off the coast of California. I loved every word of this story (and the audio version is also fabulous!) The author’s note is a fabulous piece of this book as readers learn about the true stories behind this work of fiction. Odder is based on some of the otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Katherine Applegate invites readers to learn more. It’s a fascinating story and Odder is a character who will stay with me for a long time. So many of our middle grade readers are fans of The One and Only Ivan and it would be great conversation talking about the ways this author writes stories based on these incredible animals.

This week’s books were linked at Bookelicious and/or  Cover to Cover Children’s Bookstore. If you are looking for a fabulous local children’s bookstore to support, Cover to Cover is an amazing one. We are lucky to have them in Central Ohio! If you don’t have an independent children’s bookstore in your town, check out Bookelicious. They are an online independent bookstore for children with an incredible curated collection.

Poetry Friday: Definito

photo via Unsplash

Radiant Splendor

Chrysalis comes from Greek.
“Chrysos” means gold.
A diadem is a crown
perhaps worn by a monarch, 
who is a king, queen, emperor,
or butterfly.

The diadem
of a monarch’s
chrysalis
is adorned with
flecks of flashing gold:
breathtaking effulgence.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

.

I had planned to let nature take her course with the butterflies this year. I would provide ample milkweed and fennel, and not bring any caterpillars inside to mature and emerge in an artificial environment. Caterpillar after caterpillar was sighted…then disappeared. We had more than the usual number of bluejays at our feeder. Was I unwittingly providing them with caterpillar snacks? Guilt took over. The next two (and as it turns out, the last two) monarch caterpillars I found came inside and were raised successfully to adulthood. I’ve lost count of the number of black swallowtails we’ve raised to adulthood, but there are currently six chrysalises that will overwinter in our garage and be the first to emerge in the spring. The world is right again.

The Poetry Sisters’ challenge this month was to write a definito — a free verse poem of 8-12 lines (aimed at readers 8-12 years old) that highlights wordplay as it demonstrates the meaning of a less common word, which always ends the poem. I collected several juicy words from the Merriam-Webster word-a-day emails I get: assiduous, perspicacious, and effulgence. They all go together in a fun way when it comes to raising monarchs: it takes assiduous care and a perspicacious eye to fully appreciate the effulgence of the gold-spangled monarch chrysalis.

Here’s what the rest of the Poetry Sisters came up with this month:
Tricia @ The Miss Rumphius Effect
Tanita @ {fiction, instead of lies}
Sara @ Read Write Believe
Laura @ Laura Purdie Salas
Liz @ Liz Garton Scanlon
Kelly @ Kelly Ramsdell
Andi @ A Wrung Sponge

Next month, we’re writing rhyming Occitan verse poems called Dansas. Will you to join us?

Tabatha has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at The Opposite of Indifference.

Franki’s Weekly Text Set: What Can an Author’s Note Be?

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!

This week, we’ll look at a set of books that could be a mini-cycle on Authors’ Notes. I used to be a reader who skipped things like the author’s note in a book. But one day I walked into Lynsey Burkins’ 3rd grade classroom and they were talking about an author’s note and I was intrigued. I realized all that I had been missing and started paying attention to authors’ notes. Lots of readers are like me and miss out on this critical piece of a book. This week, we’ll take a look at various things an author’s note can be in terms of how it often adds to the main text in such important ways. I could see using this set of picture books for a weeklong study to introduce readers to the power of author’s notes and the things we miss when we skip them!

A Walk in the Words is a great book to introduce Authors’ Notes to readers. Author’s notes do different things but USUALLY an author’s note shares an author’s connection to the story they just wrote. This author’s note does just that which is why I think it is a great introduction. This is a story of a child who struggles to learn how to read and the author’s note lets the reader know that this is based on the author’s childhood. I love it as an introduction to author’s notes and also to talk about credibility of an author when they write about difficult topics. As a reader, I want to know that someone writing about difficulty learning to read, actually experienced difficulty. That’s important if I want to trust the author. In this mini-study of Author’s Notes, I’d ask students to name what this author did in this author’s note (share his personal story/connection with readers). Love this book and the author’s note. A much better story when you don’t skip the author’s note!

I love The Year We Learned to Fly and I loved it even more after I read the Author’s Note at the end. Jacqueline Woodson does connect her own life to the book. But she does more than that. She pays tribute to Virginia Hamilton and her book, part of her inspiration. The combination of these two ideas in the Author’s Note gives readers a new way to understand the story and to become curious about Virginia Hamilton’s work. It is a short and powerful Author’s Note that brings new meaning to the main text of the book.

Paletero Man and Delicious are books of pure joy! Both celebrate street food! The Author’s Note in Paletero man (in both Spanish and English) shares the joy of the memories the author has as well as a bit of the history of street food in Los Angeles. The author also shares the cultural connection. I included Delicious even though it doesn’t have an author’s note. Instead, this book of poems, each celebrating street food from a different place in the world, has something else at the end (another mini-unit for another time maybe). The author gives us more information connected to each of the places or types of street food in the poem. Little chunks of information that go along with each poem!

Dad Bakes is a wonderful story of the love between a dad and a child. It is a simple story of the two baking together and also of the dad going off to work at night so bread is ready and warm in the morning. The Author’s Note shares information from the author’s experiences around incarceration and organizations that support individuals and families after incarceration. So this author note gives lots of information but also connects readers with organizations that they may want to support after reading the story. It is an Author’s Note that could also be read as a call to act/help. Rereading the story after reading the Author’s Note is also important as it is a bit of a different experience with the new knowledge.

Authors’ Notes are important in fiction books but they are equally if not more important when reading nonfiction. In The People Remember, the author includes a long Author’s Note that does so many important things for the reader. The author embeds information with personal memories and important moments. She also highlights the 7 principles of Kwanza and adds a historical timeline. This is a very important book and the Author’s Note is a generous addition with so much more to learn and understand for readers.

This week’s books were linked at Bookelicious and/or  Cover to Cover Children’s Bookstore. If you are looking for a fabulous local children’s bookstore to support, Cover to Cover is an amazing one. We are lucky to have them in Central Ohio! If you don’t have an independent children’s bookstore in your town, check out Bookelicious. They are an online independent bookstore for children with an incredible curated collection.

Franki’s Weekly Text Set: Books to Support Notebook Writing-Volume and Variety

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!

There is nothing like kicking off notebook writing with young writers. I remember years ago, learning so much from Shelley Harwayne about the importance of “volume and variety”–how important it was for children to see all that is possible when launching notebook writing. So, the beginning of the school year in writing workshop means lots of invitations to try different kinds of writing-to fill your notebook with lots of different kinds of writing. This week, we’ll explore a set of books that invites writers to “give it a try”. I am adamant that these notebook lessons are always invitations and not have tos because a writer may have something pressing to write about. And by posing these as invitations, our writers can give things a try without a huge risk and see so many possibilities.

Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle is definitely one of my favorite picture books of 2022. Wow! What a book! I love this one for writing workshop because it is the story of a little girl who misses her Mommy, who is a way on a business trip. I love to use early in launching writer’s notebooks because there are so many ways young writers can connect, so many ways they can “write off” of the book. This book will spark lots of family memories and feelings and this is a great introduction to the ways stories can do that for writers, how stories can be great ways to get your writing brain to remember something that’s happened in your life that you might want to write about.

No matter the grade I’ve taught, list writing is a favorite for so many young writers. The Me I Choose to Be (this year’s John Steptoe Award winner!) and Daddy Speaks Love (two more favorites of 2022!) are great invitations to list writing. These books seem to me like lists turned into a poetry/picture book. Writers can follow the repeated lines in each book to write their own lists or think of another topic to write a list about. I like these as mentors because for those writers who love lists, they can see that a simple list can become a beautiful picture book too!

Yes! The Most Magnificent Idea was released this week and is a sequel to The Most Magnificent Thing-! I love this new one for launching writers notebooks because it addresses the problem of days that you have NO IDEAS! This happens to all creators and it is something that comes up early in the school year for writers. Even though the main character is not a writer, she uses all the same strategies to get ideas for making as a writer does for writing. So lots to talk about and explore for days when you are stuck as a writer. So many reasons to use this new book!

Arab Arab All Year Long, Berry Song and Tuesday is Daddy’s Day is a set of books that is perfect for helping writers think about traditions that are important to them. These can be traditions that happen annually connected to a holiday or big event, they can be things you do with a family member or friend at certain times during the year or they can be things that you do daily or weekly-those daily traditions that make your days happy. These three books are great for talking about the various kinds of traditions we enjoy, the reasons for the traditions, and the people we enjoy them with. Great invitations for thinking a bit about those important traditions-big and small.

Notebook writing helps us slow down and notice things in greater detail. These two books are great ways to talk about the various ways to write descipritons. Mommy’s Hometown is a description of a place while Wait-and See is more of an observation in-the-moment, a close look at something happening. When we talk about descriptions or descriptive writing, I want my writers to see lots of examples–so I could see a whole text set on different ways or things that authors and illustrators describe. The act of a writer to slow down and notice and find those perfect words is easy to talk about when introduced as description. Young writers often have fun with this type of writing–so many possibilities!

This week’s books were linked at Bookelicious and/or  Cover to Cover Children’s Bookstore. If you are looking for a fabulous local children’s bookstore to support, Cover to Cover is an amazing one. We are lucky to have them in Central Ohio! If you don’t have an independent children’s bookstore in your town, check out Bookelicious. They are an online independent bookstore for children with an incredible curated collection.

Poetry Friday: A Cento…for ME!

Last week, I shared a cento that I wrote using titles from Ada Limón’s poems in THE HURTING KIND. This week, I’d like to share an amazing gift I received as a summer poem swap. Truth be told, they were ALL amazing gifts, but this one was seriously over the top amazing! Check this out:


Doing the Work

Your hope must be a verb
for change
holding everything in balance
many small acts
make a big difference
They give life, rather than taking it.
Our work done best, is done en masse.
This spring we’re planting, saying please
We’re Cheering for you! Be Courageous!

A cento poem ©Denise Krebs, 2022
From Mary Lee Hahn’s April 2022 “Hope in a Time of Climate Crisis” poetry collection

Poem titles for lines 1-9
1.      The Thing Is
2.     The Truth
3.     What If
4.     A Small Patch
5.     A Small Patch
6.     What I Know About Farming
7.     Dandelions
8.     Daily Alchemy
9.     Dear Generation C

Wow, right? Just…wow.

And there were more gifts besides the poem box! Handmade dishcloths and scrubbers and a for-real slice of life and learning.

Gratitudes to Denise for this ever-so-thoughtfully crafted mandala-cento box and to Tabatha for organizing the swaps!

Not sure why it’s hard to get to Denise’s blog via InLinkz (is it just me?), but you can follow this link to see the haiku bookmark I made for her.

Head over to Kat Apel’s blog to “Katch up” on all she’s been up to these past few months and to see what all the other Poetry Friday Peeps have to offer this week!

Overheard

There was much to love about building a classroom community filled with mostly same-aged students and designing plans for daylong learning across all subject areas. Now, there is much to love about sitting side-by-side with one or two students at a time from across the grade levels and getting to know each as readers, writers, and fascinating human beings. Here are some random snippets from the first few weeks on the job:

3rd grader: “You know why I like science? It never ends.”

4th grader: “I like the Harry Potter books, but I kind of have a problem with J.K. Rowling’s stand on trans people. My cousin is trans.”

3rd grader: “The other reading teacher gave us lollipops if we were good.”
Me: “I’m not sure if I’m a lollipop kind of teacher.”
“That’s okay. You’re nice anyway.”

5th grader: “I always use ‘adieu’ as my first word in Wordle, but I don’t know what it means.” (a small French lesson ensued)

3rd grader: Making random words with Scrabble tiles: add…wood…one…to…make…a…bat… “No, that should be ‘add one wood to make a bat.’ This is like an equation! What do you call the person who makes a bat? This makes more sense: ‘add one wood carver to make a bat.’ “

2nd grader: “How do you spell ‘George?’ “
Me: “Your name’s not George; why do you want to spell that?”
“George was the husband of Beatrice, a WWII engineer who could fix anything.” (Likely this book, and no surprise: he likes to read informational text.)

4th grader: “I learned a new word today: toey. T-O-E-Y. When I play Words With Friends, I always check to see what I could have played for more points. Toey would have been worth 48 points.”
Me: “What do you think toey means? If something is juicy, it’s full of juice. Do you think toey means full of toes? (laughter) Let’s look it up.”
(Amazement when I open the Merriam Webster app from the first screen on my phone. But it wasn’t there! So I opened a web browser and demonstrated the “define ___” search and we found it. Toey means nervous, anxious, worried.)
Me: “I hope the rest of your day isn’t toey!”

Franki’s Weekly Text Set: Celebrating Our Names

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!

Text Sets is back and excited about a new school year! I know celebrating names is something teachers do early in the school year so this week, we’ll share some books that invite these conversations. I think it’s important that we don’t only share these books at the beginning of the school year. Many books about names are better shared once community is established. And of course, the books can also be revisited as part of a writing unit or for a reading mini lesson.

This week’s Text Set starts with a classic–Chrysanthemum. I’m starting with this one intentionally because I think if we are intentional about book choice, we layer texts and have several books that can explore a concept over time. We choose the books that we share because they naturally invite the conversations we hope have. As we work to expand and diversify the books we use, there will always be favorites that still work. The key is not using ONLY one book but to create a text set around a big idea so children have many stories to explore. When I taught K/1, Kevin Henkes was a favorite author and this book helped new readers pay attention to print and text and numbers of letters in names, etc. This book is still one of the best I know to help kids think about names from a print standpoint–to get them paying close attention to print. It is also great because of the theme and because it is often the first introduction young readers have to Kevin Henkes, an author we want them to know! Even though there are lots of new, wonderful books about names that I would also use, I wouldn’t get rid of this one!

That’s Not My Name is my new favorite book in this Text Set. The book was published this summer and does a great job of inviting conversations about the importance of pronouncing everyone’s name correctly. It is done so well for children (and adults) of all ages and the illustrations add a joyfulness to the idea of names that I love. If you are adding one new book to your collections of name books, I’d add this one for sure!

Alma and How She Got Her Name and How Nivi Got Her Names pair together well because they both tell the traditions of how names are chosen in families. In Alma and How She Got Her Name, Alma learns about all of the people she was named after. (Juana Martinez-Neal is another author/illustrator to highlight as she also has picture books, chapter books and more.)In How Nivi Got Her Names, Nivi also learns about the people she was named after as well as the traditions of Inuit naming traditions and their meanings. (And I had no idea how may books illustrated by Charlene Chua I have in my collection–another great illustrator to highlight!) Both of these books open conversations about the various wonderful ways that children’s names are chosen.

Your Name is a Song is another fabulous story that reminds us the importance of every name. Similar to That is Not My Name, the main character is dealing with the frustration of people at school mispronouncing her name. The response is a bit different but with the same important message and empowers her to go back to school with a new understanding. There is a history and music piece embedded in the theme and the author note and pronunciations of the names are an important piece to discussing the importance of celebrating every name. Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow has 3 picture books published and one on the way! I am pretty sure I’ll preorder everything she writes from here on out!

My Name is a Story is another brand new picture book. This one has so much possibility when I think about conversations that might happen. After having negative experiences around her name on the first day of school, her mother helps her understand the beauty in her name and in all that she is. Ashanti does a bit with acrostic poetry in a way that expands the idea beyond just a simple word–which would be great fun to talk about with young readers.

This week’s books were linked at Bookelicious and/or  Cover to Cover Children’s Bookstore. If you are looking for a fabulous local children’s bookstore to support, Cover to Cover is an amazing one. We are lucky to have them in Central Ohio! If you don’t have an independent children’s bookstore in your town, check out Bookelicious. They are an online independent bookstore for children with an incredible curated collection.

Poetry Friday: Ada Limón Cento

Four of us Poetry Friday Peeps read and discussed THE HURTING KIND one section at a time in August. It was the best #sealeychallenge activity ever. We got more out of this book with a slow read and deep conversations than we ever would have by plowing through it in a day and checking it off our to-do list.

If you haven’t read THE HURTING KIND, I highly recommend it. Here is the book trailer with Ada Limón reading the final poem in the book.

Here is a cento I made with almost all of the poem titles in the second section, Summer. The words in italics are the only words I added.

Carol, at Beyond LiteracyLink, has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup.

Poetry Friday: Equations

Pink Sky by Margaret Simon

The striking line, “You can’t sum it up. A life.” comes from the poem “The Hurting Kind” from the book THE HURTING KIND by Ada Limón.

The poem itself, in response to Margaret Simon’s gorgeous photo, is a “This Photo Wants to Be a Poem…” poem, which was Margaret’s challenge this month for the Inklings.

Here’s how the rest of the crew met Margaret’s challenge:

Linda@A Word Edgewise
Heidi @my juicy little universe
Molly@Nix the Comfort Zone
Catherine@Reading to the Core
Margaret@Reflections on the Teche

Linda B. has the first Poetry Friday roundup of September at TeacherDance.

Poetry Friday: Don’t Even Bother

(via Unsplash)
Don’t Even Bother

Dust?
What’s the fuss?
I’ll give it a nudge
but only if
I must. C’mon,

Let’s kick that can down the road.

Dust disgusts me not.
I’m nonplussed
by robust drifts
of the stuff.
Don’t like it on shelves?
Give it a brush.
Don’t like it atop books?
Give it a puff. Seriously,

Let’s kick that can down the road.

I’m an adult.
I’ve hushed
the unjust voices in my head
that would insult 
this dust-encrusted home.
Trust me,

Let’s kick that can down the road.


© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

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The Poetry Sisters wrote bop poems this month. They have three stanzas (6 lines, 8 lines, 6 lines) and a repeating refrain. Additionally, the three stanzas should 1. introduce a problem, 2. elaborate on it, and 3. solve it. Our shared refrain was “Let’s kick that can down the road.”

My first challenge was to thing of something I’d “kick down the road” without trying to fix it. Something I can absolutely do without. Well, that’s easy…dusting!

Here’s what the rest of the Poetry Sisters came up with this month:

Tanita has the Poetry Friday roundup this week @ {fiction, instead of lies}

Tricia @ The Miss Rumphius Effect
Sara @ Read Write Believe
Laura @ Laura Purdie Salas
Liz @ Liz Garton Scanlon
Kelly @ Kelly Ramsdell
Andi @ A Wrung Sponge

Next month, we’ll be writing Heidi’s Definito Poems: the definito is a free verse poem of 8-12 lines (aimed at readers 8-12 years old) that highlights wordplay as it demonstrates the meaning of a less common word, which always ends the poem. Join us if you’d like!