Franki’s Weekly Text Set: Nonfiction Poetry

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. 

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Happy New Year! This year, when I know lots of classrooms are getting ready to start thinking about informational reading and writing, I decided to kick off 2022 with some of my favorite nonfiction poetry books. I think there is so much that informational poetry can do for us as readers and writers. Poetry invites us in to think about important topics in new ways. And it gives our students new ways to think about how to write informational pieces. I love the books that combine poetry with other forms of writing too,

The books in this series (Where in the Wild, Where Else in the Wild, What in the Wild) were some of the first informational poetry books I discovered. These are great for introducing nonfiction poetry to children because of the “I Spy/Look and Find” feature of each page. The poems in this book give information and the word choice and descriptions are incredible. As a reader, lots of inferring happens. As a writer, so much to learn!

I am so not a fan of chapter book biographies for elementary students. I prefer picture book biographies because our students can read across texts, learn about lots of people and do more in-depth work when they aren’t reading a chapter book series biography. I put biography poetry right up there with picture books. I love what books like Bravo and Shaking Things Up provide. Not only do we learn about several different people and their impacts but we learn about how an anthology works as it is around one topic or idea. The writing in both of these are incredible and many readers will find a person or two who they’d like to research further. And books like this also tend to have great author’s notes with more info. I hope we can all rethink whatever work we do with biographies and think about the goals and the types of books that best meet the goals biography reading. #biographies

No Voice Too Small and Voices of Justice would be great follow-up reads to yesterday’s titles. Both of these books focuses on people working toward justices. The writing style is different and the focus is a bit different in each so these would invite many conversations. So many pieces beyond the main poem on each page. Both of these books would be great to study in-depth.

In the Spirit of a Dream is my newest favorite poetry book. This book celebrates 13 American Immigrants. I loved reading about people I knew and people whose stories were new to me. The illustrations in this book are worthy of study as well. This is one of those books that I see being in every K-12+ classroom as there are so many entry points for readers, writers and illustrators.

The Last Straw has been on a few #TextSets because I love it. The way Susan Hood combines poetry and information is brilliant and there is so much packed into this one book, with poetry as the anchor. And this would invite an interesting discussion on the ways the poems were put together, the overarching topic and theme of the whole, etc. This book can be studied as a whole or individual spreads can be looked at individually.

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. 

Follow @TextSets on Instagram for daily books/weekly text sets!

Franki’s Weekly Text Set-Word Study and Vocabulary: Thinking Beyond a Simple Definition

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. 

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When I think about word study and vocabulary, I always wonder how we can expand the ways our children think about words. I want them to think about words in complex ways. I know that to really understand a word, it is not simply about a definition. The books in this week’s Text Set are books that focus on looking at a single words with depth. Each author does this in a unique way and a week of sharing books like this can help students think more deeply about words and all that they can mean.

The Quiet Book and The Loud Book! are pure joy. I love them both for so many reasons. They are fun to just read aloud for enjoyment, but there is so much to each one of these. We think we know what the words quiet and loud mean until we read these books. Then we realize that there are so many different kinds of quiet and and so many different kinds of loud. These books explore this idea in such a joyful way. I imagine once children read these books, they might think of other words in new ways!

I have loved Courage by Bernard Waber for years. I love how it gives so many scenes of courage. Now I am happy that I can pair the book with the newer I Am Courage by Susan Verde. Thinking about the different ways that two authors approach a book focused on one word will start incredible conversations. Both of these have repeated lines and both do something a bit different in exploring the word courage.

These two picture books–When You are Brave and Shy each focus on a word that can mean so much. By embedding the words in experience and story, we come to think more deeply about all that the word could mean. The illustrations in each add to the meaning which is another angle to explore.

This set of books from Laura Vaccro Seeger-Blue, Green and Red– makes for more fascinating conversation as readers think about how the same and different a color can be–as well as all that the color encompasses and symbolizes. The literal meanings as well as some metaphorical meanings of these color will be naturally explored when reading and discussing these books.

There is something about choosing a word as a goal or a reminder. Often we do this on New Year’s Day as a way to set our intentions for the coming year. My Special Word is a book that can help young readers think about words and the ways they can influence who we are–you might want to check out the whole initiative when you are on the site. Choosing a word (one that remains the same or changes daily) is a concept that is written about so well for young children in My Special Word. And the newish series from Susan Verde helps readers understand this concept of “being” as connected to a specific word. I Am Peace is one of my favorite in the series.

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: Call Us What We Carry

Today I picked up my copy of Amanda Gorman’s new book, CALL US WHAT WE CARRY. I’ve only dipped in to browse, and I can’t wait for time to curl up on the couch and savor every single word. This sampling via The New Yorker takes my breath away.

If you missed Franki’s Text Set last week, “Using Guides to Help Us: Our Own Unlearning and For Use in the Classroom,” it’s one of her best. I would add to the guides she spotlighted, the one that was prepared by the #DisruptTexts team (Tricia Ebarvia, Lorena Germán, Dr. Kimberly N. Parker, and Julia Torres) for CALL US WHAT WE CARRY. I have printed off the discussion questions to help inform my reading.

Cathy has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at Merely Day By Day.

If you are interested in hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup in January-June 2022, the call for roundup hosts is here.

Franki’s Weekly Text Set–   Using Guides to Help Us: Our Own Unlearning and For Use in the Classroom

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. 

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This week, I am focusing on a set of books that have incredible Educator Guides. I am not usually a fan of teacher guides as in the past, they have not been responsive to student needs. And I certainly am not a fan of just any teacher guide (such as those I have seen on popular teacher sites). However, recently, some brilliant scholars have created educator guides for us to use. Many of these important guides help us, as teachers, unlearn harmful assumptions that we may bring to a text. In order to share these with students in a way that does not cause harm, these guides are critical. I so appreciate the experts who are supporting us with such thoughtful information and insights.

So I purchased the hardback, the ebook and the audio versions of this The 1619 Project Born on the Water, a must-have book. It is such a critical book, not just for children but for all of us. And the guide, written by the brilliant Aeriale Johnson is a true gift. The care that she took in writing this guide is evident. It is not a guide or a book to be read in one sitting and then shared quickly with children. Instead, we have to be mindful of all that Aeriale teaches us so that we can share the book with children. I’ve read through the guide once, but plan to revisit it several times as I learn, relearn, rethink and understand my role in sharing this important book with children.

I will pretty much buy any book from here on out that Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul has written an educator guide for. I learn so much from her-in her professional writing, in her authoring of Stamped for Kids and in her educator guides. The guide accompanying Stamped for Kids, as well as the guide for Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre both offer so much as we think about how we introduce history to children. Again, so much of the history in these books is history that was absent from my learning in school, so much of this is new learning for me. I can’t trust myself to teach this history well on my own. I appreciate so much the ability to have these guides to accompany these books.

The #DisruptTexts website has a set of really strong educator guides. These guides align with the core missions of #DisruptTexts and I trust and appreciate anything that any one of the co-founders shares about books and how we might approach them. The guides span K-12 but the guide for At the Mountain’s Base was especially interesting to me. I love that they remind me (and my students) to spend lots of time with the important author’s note. Check out this guide as well as the others published by the #DisruptTexts team.

I have been adamant about knowing who wrote the Educator Guides I share. Having guide authors who I trust is critical. However, for this “Lesson Kit” for We Are Still Here, I was unable to find the author of the guide. I read through it and the reason I am including it is that it helped me navigate the huge amount of information (much new-to-me) in the book and it also includes so many important resources to extend my knowledge. There is so much here to add to our understandings-for both teachers and students.

Heartdrum Imprint is another site that offers several guides for educators. If you do not know Heartdrum, Heartdrum is a new importing of Harper Collins that highlights the voices of Native creators. Many of the books have short guides to accompany them. The guides are helpful as they often share insights into the concepts and ideas specific to the culture represented in the book. I love that they have educator guides for series books because sometimes we don’t realize how much is embedded in this type of book for transitional readers. I love JoJo Makoons and love the book even more now that I’ve read and reread the guide. The guide is a reminder that we have so much to consider with every single book we share with children.

If you want to purchase any of these books, consider purchasing them from Bookelicious. Bookelicious is an amazing online independent children’s bookstore with a brilliantly curated collection and lots of incredible tools for young readers, their teachers and their parents.

Franki’s Weekly Text Set–Talking Bubbles in Informational Books

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. 

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Young writers love to use talking bubbles and to play around with humor and graphics in their writing. But there are a lot of craft moves that go along with doing that well. Young readers love informational books with humor and lots of text features but the format often makes it challenging to navigate without some instruction and practice. A focus on talking bubbles in informational text will help students focus in on a few ways talking bubbles can be used and how they enhance the book. By focusing in on this one small way talking bubbles are used effectively, readers and writers will approach them in new ways. This is a great mini-unit to do before winter break as it is focused and short but will also carry into other units later because of the close study of something so specific. And I am thinking most of these books are more in the category of informational than true nonfiction although the field of nonfiction is changing a bit.

There is so. much to learn about as readers and writers from this series. The format of the pages are filled with various text and features and navigating the page takes some intentionality. In The Truth About Bears, talking bubbles are used for both sharing important information AND to add side comments as humor. The author embeds both of these types of talking bubbles throughout the text. So you can’t ignore the talking bubbles and still get all of the information in the book. So much of the new information is being told to us by the animals themselves.

Arlo and Pips: King of the Birds is a great model for sharing information embedded in story. This entire story is told through a conversation between two birds. There is text other than talking bubbles but the dialogue tells most of the story with information embedded throughout. Sometimes the information is shared by one of the characters. At other times, we enjoy a story and realize we learned something about crows from the story. Lots of great craft moves in this one!

This is a favorite series for readers K-5. Such a fun way to share information. In each of these books, we get to know a bug or animal. We are introduced through text but the creature (The Cockroach in this example) interacts with us, the reader, thorough dialogue. It is a fun way to use dialogue and talking bubbles and this book makes this craft move visible for young writers so they can try it in their own writing. Since this is the 2nd book/series they will look at by author Elise Gravel, comparing what she does with dialogue would also be interesting.

There is a lot to study in Except Antarctica! The narrative is told through regular narrative and dialogue (and the talking bubbles are not actually in bubbles but talking is designated by a specific font which makes for a good discussion). The author uses these in a way to enhance the story, to give the characters personality. But not a lot of information happens in the dialogue–most happens in the main text. The humor is well done in this and children hoping to try humor can learn a lot from how this is done.

If you don’t know Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard, it is one that reader could spend hours with. There is so much information packed into this gem of a book and each page is worth study. I like this one because talking bubbles are used for so many reasons and in so many ways. Creating a chart of the ways and reasons the writer embedded talking bubbles and how each impacts the reading would be a great study. Then writers can decide if any of these ways make sense for their own writing. The combination of humans and birds that talk in this books is also worth exploring.

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-Reading and Writing: Question and Answer Format

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. 

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I was thinking about how much elementary students love the Who Would Win? series. I never really looked closely at it but when I did, I realized what a great mentor it is. There is more to each segment than I realized and there is lots there for both readers and writers. So I’ve started to take a look at other nonfiction books with a Question and Answer format, thinking critically about these books for both readers and writers. There is no set way a Q/A book is written so when we study them, we can learn so much about craft moves, layout, organization, etc. This week’s Text Set will take a look at informational books that have a Question/Answer format.

The Truth About…series is one of my favorite new nonfiction series. I discovered Whooo Knew? last year and was thrilled to see two more books in the series. Each of these books focuses on a different animal/living creature. Each two page spread answers a question about the topic such as “Do Dogs Sweat?”. The question is then answered in 2-3 short paragraphs followed by some extra details, photos and information. Each book also includes a glossary, extra information and an activity. This is a great series to begin a Q/A format study as they are very engaging, there is a lot to each page and there are a variety of access points for readers. And this author gives writers lots of new things to try!

These two books What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? and Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers about Plastic give pages of questions on a topic. Even though the answers are quick, each page is worth studying for the ways the questions work together under a common topic. Part of writing good Q/A nonfiction is the ways in which the questions connect and fit under a bigger umbrella. These books are perfect to think more about that as both readers and writers. Sometimes I worry that kids love these books to just read facts but don’t do the deeper thinking of the umbrella ideas being shared. Both skills are so important. (Plus, what is more fun than a lift-the-flap informational book?)

I love the work of Nicholas St. Fleur (he does some kids informational infographic work in NY Times). His work is such a great mentor for the ways information can be organized to support reader understanding. His book. Did You Know ?Dinosaur is perfect to study… Young readers often love to spend lots of times with books like this but it is critical that we teach them how to navigate all that is on the page. As writers, thinking about ways to organize information on a 2 page spread is critical whether you are writing Q/A or some other format. Lots to learn from this one!

How Come? Every Kid’s Science Questions Explained gives readers and writers much longer answers to the questions posed. It’s important for our readers to see that most questions can’t be answered with a single sentence and this book helps to see how explanations give deep understanding to a concept. It will take stamina and strategy to read these and some would make great read aloud. As writers, there is lots to learn from these–great leads, solid explanations, intentional language and more. These are short texts that can also be used in small group work.

Writers are always trying to add humor to their books and this series by Jess Keating is a great model for thinking about ways to do that effectively. Keating shares so much interesting information but also embeds humor in a way that adds to the experience in Eat Your Rocks, Crocs and Set Your Alarm, Sloth.

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: Indigenous People-Authentic Representations

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram.

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It is almost November and I’ve already seen horrible misrepresentations of Indigenous People as we near the Thanksgiving holiday. Our children learn harmful and incorrect stories of “Pilgrims and Indians” as early as preschool. Along with correct history, it is so important that our children learn about contemporary Indigenous People and see authentic representations in contemporary settings. This week’s text set focuses on books that feature lives of Indigenous people who are members of various nations today. I rely so much on the work of Dr. Debbie Reese and her blog American Indians in Children’s Literature and each of the books on this list have been reviewed on her blog. Please visit her blog to learn more about each of her books. And follow her daily on Twitter and commit to stop putting harmful misrepresentations of Indigenous People in front of our children.

We Are Still Here and Go Show the World are two books that have been instrumental for my own learning and two books that have helped me unlearn a great deal. Both books are both historical and contemporary. Both belong in every school and classroom library. We Are Still Here looks at history and helps us begin to unlearn and relearn what we thought we knew. And Go Show the World features several historic and modern-day Indigenous heroes. These are great for elementary age children as well as high school classrooms.

I love a good picture book biography and Sharice’s Big Voice and Mission to Space are two must-haves. Both tell the story of the impact of two heroes. The added bonus is that they are both autobiographies. Making sure we read biographies of present-day people making a difference is critical and making sure readers see a full and authentic representations of those people is just as critical.

Fry Bread has won so many awards! It is another modern day look at a Native American family and the ways Fry Bread bring family and friends together. Again, I love the connection between history and today as well as the diversity within the community shown in this book. Every detail of this book is brilliant–the end papers, the cover under the dust jacket, all of it!

A look at the tradition of the powwow, Bowwow Powwow is a must-have. This book packs so much information in while also seeing the powwow from a child’s eyes. The history and tradition of the powwow is embedded within a great story. This is another one that connects history to present-day.

First Laugh-Welcome Baby! is one of my new favorite books and this is one of the favorite celebrations I’ve learned about recently. In Navajo families, the first person to make a baby laugh, hosts a celebration. This book honors that celebration as well as the diversity within the family and community. The illustrations are incredible–so many details to notice.

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: The Power of Visuals in Fiction and Nonfiction

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

This week, we’ll look at the Power of Visuals in both fiction and nonfiction. This is another study that is important as both readers and writers. More and more of our world is becoming visual and more and more books have embedded visuals that work together WITH the text. Learning to read visuals as part of a text and thinking about being intentional as a writer with the visuals we use are both critical.

If you have not had time to check out Uma Wimple Charts Her House, please do! This is a longer picture book that is full of charts, diagrams and other visuals. The focus of the story is on charting Uma’s house so it is a great book to begin a conversation around visuals to share information, to tell a story, etc. This one is also a great book to connect to math concepts. This is one readers will read and reread, noticing new things each time.

What’s Inside a Flower is one of my favorite new nonfiction books. This can be read from cover to cover or it can be studied based on what a reader wants to learn. Each page has visuals that can be studied. This would be a great book to project on a board to discuss the creation of the various visuals. And the colors in this one are unique which is another layer of thinking when it comes to visuals.

There is something about a graphic novel layout that is often challenging to understand and to create. I love a simple graphic novel that can be studied for design. This early graphic novel, Burt the Beetle Doesn’t Bite, shares lots of facts about insects. And it does so with humor. The layout and the way the text and dialogue are laid out on each page are all worth talking and thinking about. So many design decisions on each page.

How to Make a Book (About My Dog) is a new book by Chris Barton. I love it for thinking about the writing process but I also love the ways the visuals add so much to the text–breaking things down, etc. This is a fun book to read as part of your writing workshop. Then I can see going back to individual pages to really study the visuals that are embedded and how each helps the reader make meaning.

I LOVE everything about both of these books-Juana and Lucas and Make Meatballs Sing . I’d share them over and over with children. The reason I included them in this Text Set is the way that the words themselves are visuals. If you know the art of Corita Kent (which I did not before this book), much of her art is involves words. Words are the visuals in these books and there is so much to learn with this concept. In Juana and Lucas, there are other visuals throughout. I like the pairing of these as ways authors and artists create words in a way that moves them beyond “just text”.

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–Wordless Picture Books: Invitations Into Conversations and Comprehension

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

This week, we’ll take a look at several wordless picture books that invite amazing conversations. I love sharing wordless picture books with students-especially early in the school year. The focus on visuals invites all readers into the conversation. Plus I can introduce so many reading behaviors and strategies as we ponder through these wordless books.

I want readers to know right away that there is a lot of thinking that happens when we read wordless books. And I also want to share books that they can’t help but talk about. By starting with books that leave you thinking, pondering, wondering and revisiting, readers of all ages can see all that wordless picture books have to offer and then eventually transfer those skills to all types of reading. Spencer’s New Pet and Another are two that I have used with readers of all ages. They are books that invite conversations, changes in thinking, inferring possibilities, rereading and more. A lot of thinking is required in each of these fabulous books!

I love these two wordless picture books-The Midnight Fair and Little Fox in the Forest for several reasons. The illustrations are amazing and there are so many details on each page. Readers can revisit and notice new things each time. Also, they are both fantasy so they are great for introducing the genre of fantasy to readers. I also love the endings to each of the books. There are access points for readers of all ages to experience these fabulous worlds!

There are many wordless picture books that take on more serious topics. Brave Molly, I Walk with Vanessa, and small things are three books that I think are important and they are books that can open important conversations with readers. They also have some details in illustrations (shadow in Brave Molly, shattered pieces in small things) that an be discussed as to what they symbolize. I would definitely read each of these carefully before sharing with children as (in my opinion) they need to be shared with care and conversation with an adult.

The Paper Boat is a newer wordless books that shares the journey of one refugee family. The author’s note is important to this one and revisiting the book after reading the author’s note will help readers see new things in the illustrations. The black and white with a bit of color is also something worth discussion in terms of the meaning.

These are some of my favorite wordless picture books as they all explore ways to make the world better. Sidewalk Flowers, Hank Finds and Egg, One Little Bag and That Neighbor Kid each have a very obvious message but they also have layers of meaning when looking and relooking at some details in the illustrations. These 4 are perfect for mini lesson work and independent reading and I think they work for all ages (PreK-Adult).

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. (Warning: You will want to create a bookmoji while you are there. This will be the highlight of your weekend I’m sure! Below is one of mine:-)