Franki’s Weekly Text Set-Picture Book Biographies: Black Women Leaders

This week, we’ll look at some fabulous picture book biographies. I LOVE picture book biographies and think they invite deeper understanding and study. I love that I can read several picture book biographies about a person in the time it would take for me to read a short chapter book. With different picture books, you get more information and different perspectives. This week, we’ll look at some great picture books that teach us about Black Women Leaders.

We’ll start with Vice President Kamala Harris. I love biographies about people who are leading now. I think it is so important for young readers to learn about people from history AND people who they see now in the world. I LOVED the biography by Nikki Grimes and just recently discovered the My Little Golden Book biographies thanks to John Schu. They are all written by different fabulous authors and are really good! Loved this one by Rajani LaRocco.

Shirley Chisholm is a Verb! is such an incredible picture book. It really captures so much about Shirley Chisholm. I also loved She Was the First!. I have not read Speak Up, Speak Out! (and it is not a picture book) but when I saw that it is by Today Bolden, I had to add it to my stack and share it here. It looks like a perfect middle grade read.

There is so much to learn about the four women featured in Hidden Figures. I love that we can learn about them together and about each one’s separate contribution (Counting on Katherine). I also love that there is a lot of different media surrounding this story so children have so many sources of information to build understanding.

I learned so much reading Pies from Nowhere–such an important story in understanding the Montgomery Bus Boycott. I am happy to see that there are two newer books (Sweet Justice and Georgia Gilmore about Georgia Gilmore so readers can get to know her and her story.

I just discovered Fearless Heart last week thanks to Lynsey Burkins. What a powerful story–another story I am so glad to know. Surya Bonaly cowrote the book so it is part autobiographical. This is an important story for all of us and there are media clips, interviews, etc. online that build on what we learn in this picture book.

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. 

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Franki’s Weekly Text Set-Celebrating Black Picture Book Authors and Illustrators

This week, we’ll celebrate some incredible Black authors who write and/or illustrate picture books (and more). I worry when we use February to share books by Black authors because these books should be read, studied and incorporated into the curriculum all year. However, I do appreciate a time to celebrate the work and one event I have loved for years is NCTE’s African American Read-In. Whether you are participating or not, the authors I highlight this week have so many incredible books that have so much to teach young readers and writers. And these are 5 must-have Author Baskets in your classroom library.

Oge Mora has become a favorite author/illustator for me lately. I love so much about her work and the power of her stories for our youngest readers. Fiction, nonfiction, cumulative stories–no matter what she writes, love is a thread through all of her books. So much for readers and writers across elementary and beyond.

Vaness Brantley Newton’s Just Like Me is my go-to for baby girl gifts. The cover is one of my favorite covers of all time. Vanessa Brantley Newton writes fiction, nonfiction and poetry and her illustrations are colorful and draw the reader into every story.

Derrick Barnes is another author who writes incredible picture books (he also has a great nonfiction baseball book that I had to include because I LOVE it!). Each of these books is a celebration and I was thrilled to see that The Queen of Kindergarten is coming soon! (You may recognize Vanessa Brantley Newton’s illustrations on a few of his books.) The stories that celebrate children and the poetic language make these books must-haves.

If you’ve heard me talk books lately, you know that Daddy Speaks Love is one of my new favorites. I think it took this book and looking up the author to realize how many of Leah Henderson‘s books I love. Her writing, the topics she chooses, and her author’s notes are all gifts to readers.

Carole Boston Weatherford shows up in so many of my Text Sets (as you may have noticed) as her work is brilliant and so good across grades and ages. Her writing teaches us about people and times in history in a way that is accessible and honest. Her expertise combined with her writing means that I need every book she writes. I can always count on Carole Boston Weatherford’s work to be work I want to share with children and that I know will help us understand our world better.

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Franki’s Weekly Text Set–Authors Who Write Across Formats and Genres

Finding authors we love is also so important to any reading community, and when we find an author we love, we want to read everything by that author.I love authors whose work spans formats and genres. I love this for readers and for writers in the classroom. As a middle grade teacher, it was so important to. me that both chapter books and picture books are valued in the classroom. Making sure we had author baskets that spanned both is critical. I also love authors that children can grow up with-who have written books for a variety of stages. This week, we’ll take a look at several authors who have such a huge variety of books. This is important for our readers and for our writers.

This week, we’ll start off with the two authors who inspired this text set-Kyle Lukoff and Donna Barba Higuera. Last week, when the awards were announced, I was THRILLED to see Too Bright to See because I am a huge fan. A must read for everyone. And The Last Cuentista was one I had on order but hadn’t read yet. When I looked dup the author after she won the Newbery, I realized she had written a picture book I love-El Cucuy is Scared Too!–and I mentioned to my friend Stella, how much I LOVE authors who write both picture books and chapter books. For our readers, especially in middle grades and beyond, having baskets of books by authors who write both picture books and chapter books can put renewed value in picture books for older children. And as writers, studying an author’s body of work, across formats is always so powerful. Thinking back, I don’t think I thought hard enough about all of the author baskets I SHOULD have had in my classroom like these.

Since we are talking about awards, let’s move right to Grace Lin, who won the 2022 Children’s Literature Legacy Award!! Grace Lin has written so many incredible books–from middle grade novels to picture books, to early series books to math board books. She writes across so many formats and genres. One of my favorite authors to read and definitely a favorite to study as a writer.

Kate Messner and Jess Keating are two of my favorite middle grade writers. I love that they write fiction and nonfiction that is so engaging for this age. And they both write a great deal of both fiction and nonfiction which I love. And so many interesting topics across nonfiction. I also love how often they weave their nonfiction interests into their novels. Both authors have nonfiction series books which I am a huge fan of!

Andrea Davis PInkney and Kwame Alexander have each created such a beautiful collection of poetry in various formats and genres. These two authors have so much to offer both readers and writers. I love that both authors invite readers into poetry in various ways and also invite readers to expand what they read–once they discover one book, they’ll want to read others by the author and naturally expand the types of things they read. And our writers can learn so much about word choice, etc. Love these two!

I will read anything and everything that Jacqueline Woodson and Kate DiCamillo write. These two are both brilliant writers who understand children so well. Their books are well loved by all ages. As with the other authors, they both write such a variety of books. These are also two authors readers can grow up with, always finding something new as they grow as readers. Lucky us to have these two in the world of children’s literature.

This week’s books were linked at Bookelicious. If you don’t know Bookelicious, check it out today. It is an online independent children’s bookstore with an incredible selection of children’s books and many supports for young readers. Lots of great free events for teachers coming up that you can check out and register here

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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: Indigenous People-Authentic Representations

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

Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!

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.