Lesser-Known Halloween Reads

K2 Read Alouds: Week 8: Lesser-Known Halloween Reads.

via K2 Read Alouds: Week 8: Lesser-Known Halloween Reads.

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BHM Children’s Read Alouds: Day 6: When the Beat was Born

February 6 – When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc & The Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill. Illustrated by Theodore Taylor III. Genre: Non-fiction. Biography. Biography: – Clive Campbell a.k.a. DJ Kool Herc. Historical Time Period: 1970’s – Present Day. Geographical Relevance: 1. Bronx, NYC. 2. Jamaica Authenticity: Author, Laban Hill, includes historical data, timeline, and an extensive Author’s Note, in the back of the book, that include’s stories of his younger years exploring the Bronx and other boroughs of NYC.  Hill has a reputation of doing extensive research on his subjects before he writes about them. This book is no exception to that.

Roaring Brook Press. 2013.

Roaring Brook Press. 2013.

Author - Laban Carrick Hill

Author – Laban Carrick Hill

Illustrator: Theodore Taylor III

Illustrator: Theodore Taylor III

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

S1E2 : Science Verse : Study One – STEM-themed Picture Books

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Science Verse by Jon Scieszka. Illustrated by Lane Smith
Published by Viking, a division of Penguin. 2004

There is much reason in the rhymes that make up the 18 unique poetic verses in Jon Scieszka’s Science Verse ; illustrated by Lane Smith.

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Words by Jon Scieszka.
From Science Verse. 2004

Many of the poems are plays off of classic nursery rhymes; but hey…it’s creative, scientifically accurate, and a great way to introduce kids to a plethora of scientific concepts; as well as providing teachers with an informal way to assess what students’ individual science interests are too:  Which poems stand out for the student? Which words do they ask about? Which pictures do they question the purpose of?

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Illustration by Lane Smith
from Science Verse. 2004

 I first read Science Verse, this summer with a student who’ll be entering 3rd grade. He made connections from two poems to what he had learned in Science class the previous year. He questioned the first poem entitled “Evolution”, stating that he thought that we human beings began as “Amebo or something” (Amoeba). We pondered our origins for a moment and then began to read more poems. Eventually we actually came to a poem entitled “Amoeba”, and he corrected his “Amebo” reference and remembered learning that the organism is neither boy or girl.
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            Science Verse is not designed to be read from front to cover in one sitting. It’s a volume of poetry. I like to think of it as an encyclopedic resource for Science teachers; using a poem at the beginning of specific Science units to introduce vocabulary in a stimulating, rhythmic way.  Cross-curriculum at its most splendid.

The pictures are a’ight. I’m more into the verse. Perhaps I’d re-write selected poems on the dry erase board or something, or on large oaktag, like teachers do, and include images of children that resemble my students.

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          This copy is from the library, Boston Public – South End branch,  but I’ll buy my own for this up-coming school year.  I recommend introducing it even as early as Kindergarten. We’ve got readers at four years of age, others begin at eight. Regardless of curriculum standards and developmentally appropriateness, there’s no reason for us, as the gatekeepers of knowledge, to ceiling our students’ learning environments. ‘Boundaries’ and ‘STEM’ have nothing in common really anyways. So let’s keep pushing those academic boundaries in the classroom.

    Speaking of ‘pushing’,….thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher.

Engineer turned picture book author, Fredrick McKissack, dies at age 73.

Engineer turned picture book author, Fredrick McKissack, dies at age 73.

I’ll admit that I hadn’t heard of either Patricia or Fredrick McKissack by name, until I came across several newspaper obituaries, earlier today. Realizing only after that I own and use many of their books in my classroom. Many. Fredrick McKissack was the coauthor, and researcher of over a dozen non-fiction children’s books focused on the history of African-Americans. The above link will take you to the NY Times obituary of Frederick McKissack.

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

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“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.