Best Books I Read – Summer 2018

literacy, Ms. Vigna's faves, reading

I love lists, and my favorite kinds are about books. Brightly and Facebook groups for the Reading Units of Study, Writing Units of Study, and, especially, #classroombookaday, often share book recommendations. Whenever I see “best funny books for elementary students” or “top picture books for older kids”, I place holds at my library to check them out. Even though many of these were published long ago, I got around to reading them this summer. Here are my recently read favorites:

alma

Alma and How She Got Her Name is a beautiful story about identity, family, legacy, and tradition. Great mentor text for a name or identity unit, especially at the beginning of the year!

drawn together

Drawn Together tells the story of a boy and his grandfather who have trouble communicating because they don’t speak the same language until they discover a passion they have in common. The diverse illustrations and heartwarming story will grab readers of all ages.

bolivar

Bolivar is a large format picture book that follows Bolivar, the dinosaur who is able to live in New York City because people are preoccupied with their own existences. Students will love noticing all of the details in Seth Rubin’s amazing illustrations.

for everyone

The next time you’re about to gift a graduate Oh, the Places You’ll Go, buy For Everyone instead. Jason Reynolds’s use of rhythm and repetition make it a joy to read aloud, and his message stays with you long after you’re done with this quick read. Students will love his realness. It’ll be an old friend that your students turn to again and again.

pig parade

Michael Ian Black’s humorous A Pig Parade is a TERRIBLE Idea is a fun read that will engage students. Younger students will enjoy the ideas and will be inspired to create their own reasons, while older students could use this as a mentor text for opinion writing.

refugee

Refugee is a chapter book that follows three refugee story lines: Josef escaping Nazi Germany, Isabella fleeing Castro’s Cuba in the 90s, and Mahmoud deserting Aleppo in 2013. Alan Gratz masterfully crafts chapters that leave you hanging every single time. Students will love the adventure, and it will inspire rich conversations about emotions and connections with current events.  Although there are mature themes like characters dealing with trauma and death of characters, it isn’t graphic. This book gutted me, and I can’t stop thinking about it.

journey

The Journey is a picture book that makes a great text pair with Refugee. The graphic illustrations do a brilliant job of capturing the deeper meaning of the text.

school

School’s First Day of School is a great picture book for the beginning of the school year. Students may not even realize that the story is told from the school building’s perspective. Even schools get first-day-of-school jitters!

What are your recently read favorites?

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How to Host a Book Tasting

Just for fun, literacy, Ms. Vigna's faves, reading

Do you want to host a book tasting? It’s a great activity to introduce new books or genres to students, in which students spend a few minutes browsing an individual book to get a “taste” of it before deciding if they want to read it. To make the event even more appealing, I’ve created a BOOK TASTING KIT that you can borrow from me anytime! The kit comes in a picnic basket,

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and it includes all of these supplies:

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With these supplies, you can transform your room into a restaurant: tablecloths, placemats, fake flowers, “candle” light, jazzy music, chef or waiter costume, etc. And who doesn’t love a costume?! Actually, I know of plenty of people who don’t, so the costume part is entirely optional. 🙂

Here’s a video that Ms. Fritz and I made to help you understand what a book tasting is:

After getting a taste of some books, students will hopefully have books that they want to read. They can record their favorites from the book tasting on a bookmark,

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menu,

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“Books to Read” list in your 2nd or 3rd grade Reader’s Notebook,

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or your 4th or 5th grade Reader’s Notebook.

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I’m hoping to have CSS film an actual book tasting to give you the real flavor of the event! In the meantime, borrow my Book Tasting Kit to host this event in your room soon!

Happy reading!

Giant Literacy Word Wall

language study, literacy, Ms. Vigna's faves, reading, vocabulary, writing

Man, I love a word wall. I always thought I did a good job with word walls because they easily covered close to half of my classroom wall space. Then I saw this image from an article in an issue of Science and Children called, “Interactive Word Walls” by Julie Jackson and Rose Narvaez:

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The word wall of my dreams! My brain exploded with both envy and inspiration! However, the closest I thought I could get to creating a realia-filled word wall of my own was showing it to as many teachers as possible and convincing one to do it in their rooms.

Thinking about my new office though, I realized I had PLENTY of wall space to create this masterpiece! So over the next several weeks, I’ll be brainstorming and gathering realia associated with literacy for my very own interactive word wall, complete with QR codes and student work.

What literacy words do you associate with each letter of the alphabet? Comment! I’m low on J, K, O, Q, X, Y, and Z, especially.

When Kate DiCamillo Gave My Baby’s Name the Best Compliment

Ms. Vigna's faves, reading

My family lives close to An Unlikely Story, the amazing book store owned by the author of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Jeff Kinney. When they announced that author, Kate DiCamillo, would be visiting the bookstore, we signed up right away. Unfortunately, so did MANY other people. *We* were put on the standby list. On the third floor. “Oh, great,” I thought. “I’m never going to meet one of my favorite authors of all time.” But we waited anyway.

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Mr. Kinney gave a presentation to entertain us while we waited, and we loved seeing Calvin and Hobbes as one of his inspirations. But it still wasn’t the reason I was there — to see one of my favorite authors of all time.

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Instead of being in a room of 200+ fans and Ms. DiCamillo, we were front and center in a room of less than thirty people!

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I even got to ask her a question!

Later, when she signed our books, she asked, “Who’s this?” while pointing to our baby. When I told her Sam Grey, she replied, “Sam Grey wearing grey…this sounds like a name an author should borrow for a future character!” I told her, “Please do!”

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On our way out, we couldn’t resist thanking Mr. Kinney for a wonderful event and for bringing this amazing bookstore to our (greater) community.

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Go to An Unlikely Story soon! You won’t regret it, but your wallet might!

 

Middleboro’s Platform 9 3/4

Harry Potter, Ms. Vigna's faves, reading

All of these photos of HBB and MKG students getting onto their own, homemade Platform 9 3/4s are INCREDIBLE! I love each one–SO creative in its own way! Thank you, Potterheads and Potterhead families for creating some photo magic for our entertainment!

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p 9 3:4
These pics are one of the highlights of the summer for sure. In fact, I just created a new category for blog posts: “Ms. Vigna’s faves.” This post is the first to be classified there. Bravissimo, Potterheads!!