Monday, March 21, 2016

Women's History Month: Alice Ramsey's Grand Adventure

What an absolutely fun biography! Don Brown wrote and illustrated with picture about Alice Ramsey, and it is a wonderful addition to your books to read for Women's History Month.

So what is her grand adventure? Alice is the first woman to travel across America by car. No big deal, you may say...but it happened in 1909!

Yes, I said 1909! Remember, there were no road maps, no interstates, and hardly any gas stations.

Alice traveled with her friend, Hermine, and her two sisters-in-law, Nettie and Margaret.

Overflowing creeks didn't deter her...neither did mechanical problems. In fact, she helped to repair some of the problems.

I think you and your students should sit back and enjoy our great country as they travel with Alice. The beautiful watercolor pictures will certainly make you want to travel yourself!

Teacher Resources:

Homeschool Share

Riding with Alice

Children's Literature and Social Studies

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Bat Loves the Night

What a beautiful mentor text! Bat Loves the Night is a narrative informational picture book. The information in the book is all true about bats, but it is written as the story of a mother bat going out at night to hunt for food.

Some pages also contains factual information about bats that links with what is in the narrative on that page. This is a beautiful way to share a "story" that is factual in nature with real facts.

Word choice...Nicola Davies uses language that makes you truly see what bat is doing as well as having glorious examples of figurative language.

                    She beams her voice around her like a flashlight, and the
                    echoes come singing back.

Or the page with the wonderful prepositional phrases...

                   Over bushes, under trees, between fence posts, 
                   through the tangled hedge she swoops untouched.

This is picture book will fulfill so many things in a mentor text. Check it out!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Women's History Month: Thank You, Sarah-The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving

So what is it with women saving things? First it was George Washington, and now it is Thanksgiving!

Laurie Halse Anderson has written several historical novels - Forge, Chains and Fever 1793. But I bet you didn't know about her picture books. This is one of her nonfiction picture books for young readers. But I think it would be a great read aloud for older students as well.

This picture book is wonderful in so many ways..but the one thing I like about it is the fact that it shows how important writing can be!

The book provides information about so many things Sarah Hale accomplished, but making Thanksgiving a National Holiday was very important to her. In fact, she worked for 38 long years until President Lincoln agreed with her and made Thanksgiving a National Holiday.

The book is also a great mentor text for persuasion. It is Sarah Hale who persuaded other women, who persuaded their states, and ultimately persuaded a president to make Thanksgiving a National Holiday! Good for you Sarah!

The back matter is really informational about Sarah, Thanksgiving and its celebrations then and now, the Civil War, and vintage America!

I truly enjoyed this book...I hope you do too! In fact, you can go to her webpage to find some questions and a teacher's section (

Monday, March 7, 2016

Women's History Month: Dolley Madison Saves George Washington

Now, you may be wondering as I was, how could Dolley Madison save George Washington? Well, Don Brown lets us know in this picture book.

The book provides the readers with some background information about Dolley Madison. She married James Madison and became the First Lady of the United States. She wore beautiful dresses, decorated her home, and threw grand parties. When the War of 1812 arrived, Dolley had challenges greater than she’d ever known. So when the White House was about to be invaded, Dolley did one thing she thought might make a difference: she saved George Washington.

This picture book provides a narrative story that helps readers understand Dolley and some of the struggles she lived through due to the war.

This is another great example of a story with a narrow focus. It also has a conclusion that connects us with the painting of George Washington.


Thursday, March 3, 2016


Talk about a narrow focus for a nonfiction picture book...this is a great example. And Sneed B. Collard III had me intrigued from beginning to end.

Teeth starts out by explaining the different things teeth can do...slice, stab, crack, grind, mash, and munch. A different animal is highlighted in each area to show how animals may use their teeth.

Then it goes on to let the reader know about how they can be the same and different, big or small, kinds of teeth, number of teeth...who would have known about all this information about teeth. 

The pictures of the animals, which have been illustrated by Phyllis V. Saroff, will certainly draw the reader in as well.

The conclusion is a great illustration of how to end with a question appropriately.

                      Teeth. Don't you wish you had more?

Don't pass up the chance to share this picture book with your students!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Pale Male

Janet Schulman crafted a beautiful story of the red-tailed hawk, Pale Male, that became one of the most famous "citizens" of NYC.

Hawks do not usually remain in large cities...but Pale Male was different. He stayed in Central Park while most other hawks would have moved on. Then another red-tailed hawk came to the park and the two started a courtship. 

The book tells the story of how Pale Male started out in Central Park with one mate, failed, found a new mate, and started building in the high-rise buildings of NYC. Obstacles came to them every step of the way, but some legislation protected them for a time. Their family grew. The city loved their hawk family!

Then some of the legislation was relaxed...the hawk's nest was removed to add pigeon spikes when they migrated for the winter. Protests caused problems for the apartment on Fifth Avenue where Pale Male nested every year. Finally, the spikes to keep pigeons away were removed, and Pale Male rebuilt his nest.

Pale Male is a true citizen of New York City.

This is another great example of a narrow focus for a story that is nonfiction. Janet Schulman chose to write this story because of her love of the wildlife in Central Park...especially Pale Male.

Teacher Resources:

Random House

Monday, February 29, 2016

Black History Month: 28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World

28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World would have a been a great book for me to have posted at the beginning of the month. Sorry...

This book has a variety of formats that it presents the information in: narrative, poems, eulogies.

It includes not only people, but also events that affected all of us. Here are some examples:

Dred Scott
14th Amendment
Matthew Henson
Harriet Tubman - her death, but also tells what she did
Madam C J Walker's eulogy
Jesse Owens
Day Marian Anderson performs at Lincoln Memorial
Jackie Robinson
Brown vs. The Board of Education
Rosa Parks sits
Little Rock Nine attend Central High School

I hope you have enjoyed my review of picture books that can be used during Black History Month!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Black History Month: Henry's Freedom Box

Henry started his life with his mother and his brothers and sisters as slaves...they dreamed of freedom. When the master was dying, they all thought they would be freed. But the master gave Henry to his son, and Henry had to leave his family.

Henry's new job was rolling tobacco. While working his new job, Henry met Nancy. They lived together even though they had different masters. Henry loved Nancy...they started a family.

But something terrible happened...Henry's family was taken away. He would never see them again.

Henry had nothing left, except his yearning for freedom. It came to him one day to mail himself to freedom. With the help of his friend James and Dr. Smith, he mailed himself to freedom.

When Henry arrived at his destination, he was finally FREE!

You and your students will enjoy this moving true story of a man who wanted freedom so badly he was willing to mail himself to achieve it!

Teacher Resources:


Collective Memory


Education Miami

Black History Month: Child of the Civil Rights Movement

Paula Young Shelton has crafted a story of the Civil Rights Movement that tells a beautiful story. And why shouldn't she...she is the daughter of Civil Rights activist Andrew Young.

What she brings to this story is the unique perspective of a child. A child whose parents left the South for a better life in NYC, but who decide that they need to move back south after hearing about the "bad" laws and the Freedom Riders.

This picture books has "chapters" that help the reader flow more easily through the timeframe of the book.

The little girl's first sit-in in at a restaurant in Atlanta where she cries loudly because they will not let her sit at the counter.

Her family and many others get together and have meals together at their homes - but sometimes in the few restaurants for blacks. They talk about the walk from Selma to Montgomery. I love the language used to describe all the people talking at once...

          With everyone trying to talk at once, I thought they sounded
          just like instruments tuning up before a concert.

Each person's voice is compared to a different person...everyone except "Uncle Martin."

The story ends with MLK standing over LBJ's shoulder watching him sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

This is a lovely story for students since it is told from a child's perspective.

Teacher Resources:

American History Teacher

Children's Museum

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Black History Month: March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World

This picture book is a beautiful rendition of the march on Washington as told by MLK's older sister, Christine King Farris.

She tells of where all the people came from to march on Washington and why they came. They came because they believed all people should be treated equally...because they wanted to belong...because they were in search of freedom...because they wanted to MARCH!

Martin got to Washington the day before and stayed up all night to write his speech. Since he wrote all of his own speeches, he knew the importance of each and every word...his speech would not let him rest.

He met with a delegation from Congress about a law that would have black and whites treated equally. As they met, marchers gathered on the Mall. Christians walked arm in arm with Jewish people; black people held hands with white people; all marching for the same reason.

MKL looked out the window and could not believe what he saw. Thousands were there - "looking like patches of color in a great quilt spread over the National Mall."

Although there were angry people in the crowd, Martin did as he made his way to the podium. Mahalia Jackson sang...then Martin shared his dream with the crowd of people. The dream was inspirational. It demonstrated the power of words in a magnificent way.

This is a great book to share the story of the march with your students!

Teacher Resources:

History Channel

I Have a Dream Speech - youtube

Friday, February 19, 2016

Need for a couple days off...

Greetings Everyone...

I will not being posting a book today or Monday. My father passed, and the funeral is Monday. I will be back on Wednesday and will try to post some extra books for Black History Month!


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Great Blog Post

I have to share this post as it is a wonderful example of writing in the classroom!

Figurative Langauge, The "Author's Tool Belt" & 5th Grade Writers by Kathy Halsey

Black History Month: Beautiful Moon - A Child's Prayer

Oh my goodness! What a marvelous book. From the story itself to the illustrations that are a mixed media and oil on watercolor paper...this book is phenomenal!

Tonya Bolden crafted a picture book that shows diversity in such a unique way. Prayer unites everyone! The boy wakes up and realizes he forgot to pray. As he looks out his window, this is what he sees...

               The amber orb floats, washing the night with a radiant glow.

Eric Velasquez illustrates mostly urban scenes using dark blues and browns. Each of the illustrations are brightened by moonlight.

And the boy prays for things you would never imagine a child would pray for...


A man too busy thinking about his daughter fighting in a distance land does not notice the moon...the boy prays for wars to end.

I will only share this one as I truly want you to find this book and share with everyone!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Black History: Mississippi Bridge

Storytelling is in Mildred D. Taylor bones. Her father was a master storyteller, so it is no wonder that Mildred decided to write stories. Her stories were different from those taught in her school...

          "It was a history of ordinary people, some brave, some not so brave, 
          but basically people who had done nothing more spectacular than 
          survive in a society designed for their destruction."

Mississippi Bridge is also different from her other books as well. This story is told from the point of view of Jeremy Simms, a white boy who was in an earlier Logan Family book.

What I really like about this book is that it is a novella. It is short enough to get through during Black History Month. But don't let it fool you. It packs a punch for sure! It is really geared more towards 5th - 7th graders...but could be read in higher grades as well.

As with Rosa, this story deals with African Americans and busses.

I do not want to get into this story as I truly want you to read it.But I will share some of her language in the book...

        ...a steady, big drop kind of rain that had roads all slopped up 
        outside and ceilings kA swollen up and leaking inside.

       It was a rickety old thing, that wooden bridge...

       My ole feet just couldn't seem to pick theysleves up and flatten
       down one more time.

You can see that the dialect will be thick in the book. But it is well worth the read. It is only 62 read it before you have your students read it. Decide if you think your students can handle the story.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Black History Month: Almost to Freedom

Vaunda Micheaux Nelson has crafted an extraordinary picture book about the Underground Railroad...and Colin Bootman's oil painting illustrations add depth to the story.

The most intriguing thing about this book is that it is told from the point of view of the rag doll owned by Lindy.

                I started out no more'n a bunch of rags on a Virginia plantation.

The rag doll goes everywhere with Lindy...even the cotton fields.

This picture book would definitely need to be a read aloud because of the Southern dialect and words from that time period.

        ...and she hug me so hard I think my insides'll bust out of my seams.

The story is a hard one to read as it is realistic about what happened when slaves disobeyed.

                  One day Lindy gets whipped by the overseer. She didn't 
                  do nothin' but ask Mass's son how to spell her name.

The story of their escape along the Underground Railroad will keep you and your students on the edge of your seats. And the ending was not what I expected...

The story provides opportunities to teach various writing techniques.

              Branches slap us along the way like they scolding', warning'
              us to go back.

             It's dead quiet 'kept for the sound of the boatman pushin',
             pushin', pushin' his oars.

             The loneliness swallows me up.

This book is a factionalized account of the Underground Railroad, but it could certainly be true. I hope you are able to use it with your students.

Teacher Resources:

Louisiana State Library

Dayton Public Schools

Monday, February 8, 2016

Black History Month: Aunt Flossie's Hats (and Crab Cakes Later)

I chose this book for today because I am in Louisiana as it is being posted...and crab cakes remind me of Louisiana! Even though the story takes place in Baltimore...

At this time of year students may have a hard time trying to find ideas to write about for personal narratives. Aunt Flossie's Hats is another great picture book to use with students to help them find ideas. Each of Aunt Flossie's hats tells a with a smoky smell from a fire, one from a parade when the Great War was over, and one that fell into the water - Aunt Flossie's favorite!

The book can be used as a mentor text for dialogue, compound sentences, the appropriate use of incomplete sentences, and following a single idea throughout a story - crab cakes.

I hope you enjoy this heart-warming story as much as I do!

Teacher Resources:

Scholastic Idea

Broward ISD

Homeschool Download