K2 Read Alouds: Week 4: Community

Skipped week 3. I was doing things.

My district has a new K2 curriculum. I’m cool with it. It’s not all encompassing, and pretty much all of it is practices that I’ve been doing in my classroom already. So I’m responding to implementing much of it a lot better than I’ve responded to any previous curriculums that I’ve been told to use.  The first 6-week unit is, ‘Community’, beginning with the sub-theme, “friendship”. They recommend quite a few picture books, on friendship. I use different books on “friendship” other than the recommended list, but a few of them I will use. I will note if the read aloud choice was a suggestion from my district’s new K2 curriculum. If you see a lot of titles with the word ‘Friends’ in my weekly read aloud posts, you now know why.

Here’s what we read last week:

Monday

Everett Anderson’s Friend by Lucille Clifton. Illustrated by Ann Grifalconi.

Everett Anderson's Friend By Lucille Clifton Illustrated by Ann Grifalconi Published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 1976

Everett Anderson’s Friend
By Lucille Clifton
Illustrated by Ann Grifalconi
Published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 1976
OUT OF PRINT

Tuesday

True Friends by John Kilaka

True Friends By John Kilaka Published by Groundwood Books. 2006

True Friends
By John Kilaka
Published by Groundwood Books. 2006

Wednesday

Fresh Fish by John Kilaka

Fresh Fish By John Kilaka Published by Groundwood Books. 2005

Fresh Fish
By John Kilaka
Published by Groundwood Books. 2005

Thursday

The Book of Mean People By Toni Morrison & Slade Morrison. Illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre

The Book of Mean People By Toni Morrison & Slade Morrison Illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre. Published by Disney-Hyperion. 2002

The Book of Mean People
By Toni Morrison & Slade Morrison
Illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre.
Published by Disney-Hyperion. 2002
OUT OF PRINT

Friday

Da Goodie Monsta by Robert Peters

Da Goodie Monsta By Robert Peters Published by Wiggles Press. 2009

Da Goodie Monsta
By Robert Peters
Published by Wiggles Press. 2009

What The Teacher (me) is Reading, This Week:

Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope By bell hooks Published by Routledge. 2003

Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope
By bell hooks
Published by Routledge. 2003

 

Thank you for reading The Picture Book Pusher

K2 Read Alouds: Week 1

We just completed our first week back at school. As I wrote previously, I’m teaching Kindergarten this year.  These are the titles I read aloud this week:

Monday

“If you stare at a painting and do not see yourself there, paint your own portrait. Let the world see that you do exist and that you are truly special – like the boy whose style was so unique.” – Lee, Giant Steps to Change the World

Giant Steps to Change the World By Spike and Tonya Lee Illustrated by Sean Qualls

Giant Steps to Change the World
By Spike and Tonya Lee
Illustrated by Sean Quall

I have a confession to make though. I adlib and sub-lib some of the words in this beautiful picture book. As mentioned in an earlier blog post, as a radical teacher I don’t use the word ‘dark’ in reference to anything with a negative connotation in my classroom, regardless of how harmless or minute the reference may be perceived by others. Young children today, are a different generation than our’s. There *may* be more opportunities for them but self-image is all amuck. I know this because I have the honor of observing the hearts & eyes of 18 beautiful 5-year olds daily.

The page that reads, “Press on through the darkness…” I replace ‘darkness‘ with ‘bad place’.

We talk about skin hue in the classroom. Well, the kids talk about it, and I listen, and guide, and praise, and embrace, and then listen some more. I’m not going to reference ‘darkness’ in a readaloud as something undesirable, or as something you must evolve out of,  to then witness children commenting, with no ill intention, “You’re dark too”, or “I’m dark but my mama’s light” or whatever their perfect voices may say, regardless, they’re not going to hear me reference dark as something undesirable. We amp up the concept of darkness actually in the classroom. “Ooh lets use the dark green one.” or, “Dark vegetables are better for you. They have more of the good stuff, like vitamins and other nutrients.”  or, “I love your dark blue backpack.” Yup. That’s my classroom. My practices are based solely on my observations of young children’s delicate states of mind. The more diverse the classroom, the more conscious children are of their delightful darkness, their shades, their piece in the puzzle, their self-worth.

Tuesday

Frog and Toad are Friends By Arnold Lobel

Frog and Toad are Friends
By Arnold Lobel

I read chapter 2, “The Story” from Lobel’s beloved Frog and Toad are Friends. This story was a perfect segue into talking about ‘storytelling’, an activity that my students will engage in often in the classroom this year.

han some more. I’m not going to reference ‘darkness’ in a readaloud as something undesirable, or as something you must evolve out of, and then also witness children commenting, with no ill intention, “You’re dark too”, or “I’m dark but my mama’s light” Or whatever their perfect voices may say, regardless, they’re not going to hear me reference dark as something undesirable. We amp up the concept of darkness actually in the classroom. “Ooh lets use the dark green one.” or, “Dark vegetables are better for you. They have more of the good stuff, l                                                                                                                                                                        

Wednesday and Thursday

Leola and the Honeybears By Melodye Benson Rosales

Leola and the Honeybears
By Melodye Benson Rosales 

Leola and the Honeybears is a classroom favorite already! Took us two days to get through because the children had so much to say about it during the readaloud. Which is great in K2! I love when they speak up because their voices are important.

Leola 

I set up these two classic Seussian tales for two very mindful and strategic reasons: 1) It’s what I had ready and available! 2) It’s what I had ready and available!

No for real though, there’s nothing more appropriate for K2 kids than phonetically-based rhymes at the start of the school year. The kids dug ’em.

and the Honeybears is a classroom favorite already! Took us two days to get through because the children had so much to say about it during the readaloud. Which is great in K2! I love when they speak up because their voices are important.e already! Took us two days to get through because the children had so mimp.Friday

The Tortoise of The Hare By Toni Morrison & Slade Morrison Illustrated by Joe Cepeda

The Tortoise or The Hare
By Toni Morrison & Slade Morrison
Illustrated by Joe Cepeda

Perfect. Just perfect!…way to end the week. The last page of this story pretty much sums up our classroom ideology for the first week. I suggest you snag a copy for your classroom.

Perfect. Just perfect!…way to end the week. The last page of this story pretty much sums up our classroom ideology for the first week. I suggest you snag a copy for your classroom.

Perfect. Just perfect!…way to end the week. The last page of this story pretty much sums up our classroom ideology for the first week. I suggest you snag a copy for your

Oh wait….here’s a little more:

In the Listening Center

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I set up these two classic Seussian tales for two very mindful and strategic reasons: 1) It’s what I had ready and available! 2) It’s what I had ready and available!

No for real though, there’s nothing more appropriate for K2 kids than phonetically-based rhymes at the start of the school year. The kids dug ’em.

 

Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher.

 

Black History Taught in September & The 50th Anniversary of ‘I Have a Dream’

Illustration by Kadir Nelson 2012

Illustration by Kadir Nelson 2012

As we embark on the 50th anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s  delivery of his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, and march again to Washington, on August 24th, 2013, I like to think my young students will be having discussions about these events in their homes, with their families, during these last weeks of summer before the school year.  Goodness knows they’ll be having them with me in the classroom, come September.

I Have A Dream by Martin Luther King. Illustrations by Kadir Nelson.  Schwartz & Wade 2012

I Have A Dream by Martin Luther King. Illustrations by Kadir Nelson.
Schwartz & Wade 2012

We Are One: The Story of Bayard Rustin by Larry Dane Brimner

We Are One: The Story of Bayard Rustin
by Larry Dane Brimner

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco Published by Philomel 1994

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco
Published by Philomel 1994

Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison

Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison

I, Too, Am America By Langston Hughes Illustrated by Bryan Collier Simon & Schuster 2012

I, Too, Am America
By Langston Hughes
Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Simon & Schuster 2012

Ellington Was Not A Street By Ntozake Shange Illustrated by Kadir Nelson Simon & Schuster 2004

Ellington Was Not A Street
By Ntozake Shange
Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Simon & Schuster 2004

The 50th anniversary of ‘I Have A Dream’ provides me with a perfect “excuse” to begin our American history lessons in September (through June), rather than the too-easily-embraced-custom of teaching it only from February 1st – 28th. Who can object to my lessons beginning in September? After all, I am a Dreamkeeper, and tomorrow’s march on Washington makes The Civil Rights Movement a current event.  The Civil Rights Movement is now.

Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher

Ideal Picture Books for the K2 Classroom

So this year, I will be teaching Kindergarten in an Inclusion setting, rather than first grade. I’ve taught K2 before so I’m cool with it. I will miss guiding students in the persuasive essay process though. That’s right, persuasive essays in first grade.

Anyhow, the following picture books will surely be permanent fixtures in our K2 space. They are ideal and hard to come by.

The Sweet and Sour Animal Book By Langston Hughes

The Sweet and Sour Animal Book
By Langston Hughes

The Book of Mean People By Toni Morrison & Slade Morrison Illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre

The Book of Mean People
By Toni Morrison & Slade Morrison
Illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre

Grump Groan Growl By bell hooks Illustrated by Chris Raschka

Grump Groan Growl
By bell hooks
Illustrated by Chris Raschka

Life Doesn't Frighten Me by Maya Angelou Illustrated by Jean-Michel Basquiat

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me
by Maya Angelou
Illustrated by Jean-Michel Basquiat

One by Kathryn Otoshi

One by Kathryn Otoshi

Lil Man Makes a Name for Himself Written & Illustrated by Caleb Neelon Cantab Publishing 2004

Lil Man Makes a Name for Himself
Written & Illustrated by Caleb Neelon
Cantab Publishing 2004

Queen of the Scene by Queen Latifah Illustrated by Frank Morrison

Queen of the Scene by Queen Latifah
Illustrated by Frank Morrison

These are some of my faves. Find them where you can.

Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher

Race, Education and Democracy Lecture and Book Series 2013

The Race, Education and Democracy Lecture and Book Series is an annual event held at Simmons College, organized by Professor Theresa Perry for Beacon Press Books.   The lecture series, held in the spring, brings distinguished movers and shakers in the field of education, to discuss their latest book, published through Beacon Press. I first attended the series back in ’07 while an undergraduate at Simmons College. Patricia Hill Collins and Imani Perry were the speakers. The event was life changing.

The Series proceeds on the assumption that public education is at the center of American public life and that discussions about critical educational issues need to occur in the public domain and engage Americans from many different backgrounds in thoughtful and complicated conversations.

– http://www.raceandeducation.com   Home page, paragraph 4

This year’s event brought us Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, discussing the themes: Standing Up For Justice/Creating Opportunity: From the Birmingham Children’s Crusade to Creating Excellence in Math, Science and Technology. 

Every year the event is sure to have prominent scholars, passionate educators, and Beacon Press Books for sale, specifically if not solely, books written by the speaker. However, this year’s lecture series had something extra special: PICTURE BOOKS!  We have Prof. Perry to thank for that.  Most of the picture books sold out. I was able to snag two.

 Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison

Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison

Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison. Published by Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2004

Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison, uses photographs and text to tell its story. Morrison elicits mindfulness in the young reader, by writing through the voice of children and adolescents from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s.  So important, and time saving is this book. As a teacher of young children, it takes much time to craft the right words to speak to children, regarding painful truths in our history. If I am not mindful in my word choice, then my truths may oppress, rather than empower, their young spirits.  I want to convey not only what happened, but also a perspective that can empower them and promote resilience. Morrison takes the guess-work out of choosing the right discourse.

Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison. Published by Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 2004 Pg. 28

“I don’t know. My buddies talked me into this. They said it would be fun. It’s not, but these guys are my friends and friends are more important than strangers. Even if they’re wrong. Aren’t they?”
Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison. Pg. 28

Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison. "I know the water I am drinking at  this fountain is the same as the water over there. The whites know it too. Seems foolish but it's not. It's important if you want to make a grown man feel small. It's extra work and costs more money to have two fountains when one will do, and to pretend water cares who's drinking it. But I guess some folks will do anything to make themselves feel big." pg. 52

.
“I know the water I am drinking at this fountain is the same as the water over there. The whites know it too. Seems foolish but it’s not. It’s important if you want to make a grown man feel small. It’s extra work and costs more money to have two fountains when one will do, and to pretend water cares who’s drinking it. But I guess some folks will do anything to make themselves feel big.” Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison pg. 52

John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement by Jim Haskins and Kathleen Benson. Illustrated by Benny Andrews

John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement by Jim Haskins and Kathleen Benson. Illustrated by Benny Andrews. Published by Lee & Low Books, Inc. New York. 2006

John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement by Jim Haskins and Kathleen Benson. Illustrated by Benny Andrews. Published by Lee & Low Books, Inc. New York. 2006

This book is so important. Its a nonfiction tale with a message that,  ‘young people can be game changers too’. At least that’s the message that I took from the book. John Lewis began his life as an organizer at a young age.  The reader follows the life of John from his elementary years through adult hood.    The illustrations portray the simplicity of John Lewis’ home and school. In contrast the authors’ words portray the protagonist as a child with layers of cognitive substance. This mesh of simplicity and substance provides young readers the opportunity to conclude that great ideas and great people can come from limited means.

Aunt Seneva started to cry, and the children began to sob too. Then Aunt Seneva gathered her courage. “Everybody hold hands!” she called, and the frightened children did as they were told…The storm didn’t last long, but John never forgot that day. – Haskins and Benson pg. 3

Illustration by Benny Andrews for John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement.  Pg. 4

Illustration by Benny Andrews for
John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement.
Pg. 4

John realized that segregation was keeping his family from having a better life. This made him angry…One day when he was fifteen, John heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the radio…It was time to turn things upside down in order to set them right side up. – Haskins and Benson pg. 7

Illustration by Benny Andrews for  John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement.  Pg. 8

Illustration by Benny Andrews for
John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement.
Pg. 8

Inspired by Dr. King, John took his first steps to protest segregation. He asked for a library card at his county public library, knowing that black people were not allowed to have cards. John was not surprised that the librarian said the library was for whites only. then he went home and wrote the library a letter of protest. – Haskin and Benson pg. 10

Illustration by Benny Andrews for John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement.  Pg. 9

Illustration by Benny Andrews for John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement.
Pg. 9

A time line, of John Lewis’ significant life events, is provided at the end of the book, along with photographs.  Every elementary classroom should have this book. You can order it through Lee & Low, here.

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While I have your attention, I’d like to share something Dr. Hrabowski and Dean of Students at Brookline Public Schools, Dr. Adrian Mims spoke on, at the lecture:  Doing math in numbers.   What’s that mean you ask? It means that if you are a teacher of students from diverse backgrounds, then be mindful of how you group your students. If students of color are the minority, then don’t just deploy them evenly into the rest of the groups, by default. Just because they are the minority within a peer group of students, doesn’t mean that their ideas have to be the minority within their work groups as well. Let them think together. Thinking together provides affirmation, respect, and a sustainable voice. Thus, when making math groups for students, make sure that students can work in numbers, not just as the sole minority within the group.  Dr. Mims actually wrote on the benefits of grouping students together in his dissertation,  “Improving African American Achievement in Geometry Honors”.

Overall this year’s lecture gave me lots to think about. Lots to live for.

Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher.

p.s. during the question and answer period, someone asked Dr. Hrabowski what his favorite picture book was (it wasn’t me, really!). His answer: The Velveteen Rabbit. He said that the book’s message is deep and profound.