It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/4/14 #imwayr



Visit Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers to participate in the kidlit version of this weekly meme.

On my blog this week:

In reading:

I was away for most of the week, so I thought my reading week would look different since I wasn’t sharing picture books with my son. But I visited a children’s bookstore and tried to read all the picture books there (never fear: I also bought stuff. I know: bookstores aren’t libraries), so my reading week was full of new PBs that I’ve been longing to get my hands on.

Surprise is the first book by Mies Van Hout I’ve seen. On one page, there is a word; on the other, a whimsical and very colorful illustration. I liked the illustrations very much. Surprise is about parenting, which–being an inveterate non-reader of cover blurbs and descriptions–I didn’t realize until I got to the very last spread, “Letting Go”–which, can I just say, nearly killed me. I’m on the parenting fast-track with my older son: he’s been my son for only three years, but he’s turning twelve next month. So we are doing infant bonding at the same time that he’s also all teenagery separation. We are both going through a phase right now where we’re hyper-aware that he graduates from high school in just six years, so we have only six more years. As I keep telling him, I’ll be his mom for life, but he’s right too: it’s different when you grow up. This book’s ending would probably make him throw up right now, so I’m glad I read this one by myself.


I absolutely loved Naked!, written by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi. So funny and really captures a particular stage of childhood.

lion and bird

Lovely illustrations in The Lion and the Bird, a quiet story of friendship written and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc.

i am rosa parks

I was impressed by Brad Meltzer’s nonfiction picture book biography series. I looked at several of them, and I Am Rosa Parks was my favorite. Based on the covers, I had assumed these were books for the youngest children, but they’re actually appropriate for an older elementary audience.


The story of Gaston didn’t do a lot for me, but Christian Robinson’s illustrators are wonderful.

hooray for hat

Hooray for Hat, written and illustrated by Brian Won, is about how a bunch of grumpy animals improve their moods through silly hats and friendship. The illustrations are lively and the story was certainly one I could relate to.

elizabeth queen of seas

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas, written by Lynne Cox and illustrated by Brian Floca, is the true story of a New Zealand elephant seal who takes up residence in the Avon River in Christchurch. For her own safety, the townspeople try to relocate her numerous times, but she keeps finding her way back to the place she has decided is home. I loved the photograph at the end of the book of Elizabeth sunning herself on the road.

at the same moment

At the Same Moment Around the World, by Clothilde Perrin, gorgeously illustrates the world’s time zones. Each picture depicts a child in a different time zone, engaging in his or her daily activities. There is a fold-out world map of time zones at the back. The pictures are beautiful and detailed; I could imagine pouring over this book and discovering something new each time.

the promise

I don’t always like allegorical, abstract picture books, but Nicola Davies’s The Promise, illustrated by Laura Carlin, is superb. There is so much to think and talk about in this story of a thief whose life is changed when she steals an old woman’s bag.

my teacher is a monster

I can imagine Peter Brown’s My Teacher Is A Monster (No, I Am Not) as a favorite read-aloud in many classrooms this year.

this is a moose

This Is a Moose would make a terrific pairing with Chloe and the Lion or Z Is for Moose.

bread and jamReading Bread and Jam for Frances aloud to my son last night made me fully understand how I became a foodie. This was possibly my favorite of the Frances stories when I was a child (hard to narrow it down to just one favorite), and I read those descriptions of Albert’s and Frances’s lunches many, many times. I so wanted my own little cardboard shaker of salt or pepper.

reparenting the child who hurts

Reparenting the Child Who Hurts: A Guide to Healing Developmental Trauma and Attachment is a book I’ll be recommending to other adoptive parents. It’s unique in the many, many adoptive parenting books I’ve read at going into such (mostly) readable detail about the neuroscience of complex early childhood trauma and sharing dozens of techniques and scripts that actually work. It’s also very British, and I so enjoyed the authors’ metaphor of “knitting woolies” for brain development.

I also reread two books by Will Richardson, whose thinking about teaching and learning heavily influences what I do in my classes. (He was also the keynote speaker at the conference I attended last week–which is the main reason I decided to attend.) Why School? is a Kindle Single–super quick read, absolutely essential. The argument here is that in an age of abundant information, we need to do school differently, and Richardson has some terrific ideas for how we can begin to make a change. Central to his thinking is that teachers need to be learners first because in an age of abundant information, information is the last thing our students need from us. Instead, they need us to model the habits and dispositions of a master learner. Learning on the Blog collects pieces first published on his blog. Sure, the pieces are all available for free to read on his blog, but I appreciate his curation of his thinking and writing.

why-schoollearning on blog






20 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/4/14 #imwayr”

  1. Linda Baie Avatar

    Love the idea of The Same Moment Around The World, Elisabeth. Couldn’t it be used for a class prompt-the same moment in our homes, or something more with research? Looks good. I enjoyed The Promise and This Is A Moose a lot, for different reasons. Thanks for sharing your week!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Linda, I thought of several ways to use The Same moment Around the World in the classroom. Definitely think it would work as a writing prompt or in a study of time/culture. Using it to spark a research interest could also work!

  2. thelogonauts Avatar

    Another great list! Will definitely check out At the Same Moment – sounds like a great fit for our year-long study of world cultures and geography, thanks! As for your Rosa Parks recommendation, I wonder whether the cover/illustration style will turn off older readers. I can see even my third graders feeling like they are “too old” for a book that looks like that one. What a bummer if the content is great.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Great question about the covers of the I Am biography series. The cover and book design (they’re small square books) make them look more like books for younger kids–at least to me. However, I am pretty sure I’ll be able to get a lot of readers for the books once I share part of one as a read-aloud.

  3. Jule Murphy Avatar

    Great list of some old and some new. I love using Bread and Jam for Frances in my library lessons-props and all.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Props! I never thought about props, but the Frances books provide all kinds of wonderful opportunities.

  4. Elizabeth Avatar

    I still dream of tasting a chompo bar!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Yes! Me too. The chompo bar is our generation’s butter beer!

  5. Beth Shaum (@BethShaum) Avatar

    Glad I’m not the only one who didn’t love Gaston. You’d think I would since I am a huge lover of any dog with a smooshy face (I have two pugs) but yeah, the story just didn’t do it for me.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I thought the story was very thin. But I am loving Christian Robinson’s work right now–one of my favorite new illustrators.

  6. Michele Avatar

    Not a bad reading list for a traveling week! You must have had a ball at the bookstore 🙂 Finding a good indie is always fun. I haven’t been down to the one in Chicago, even though I live in the suburbs, I’m just not down there enough!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      My visit to Oak Park was a big success–I hit the kids’ bookstore, the public library (LOL), and another big indie down the street. I was actually too busy reading books to walk around and see any of the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture (except for Unity Temple–which creeped me out).

  7. msyingling Avatar

    Francis has always been my favorite! I wanted the china tea set! Back in the ’70ss, my mother had the little cardboard shakers of salt and pepper and I took them in my lunch from time to time!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Cardboard shakes of salt and pepper!!!!! My dream come true! LOL. I had a blue china tea set. In reading the Frances books to my kids, I’m amazed at how well they hold up. (Not all my favorite books from childhood do!)

  8. Kellee Moye (@kelleemoye) Avatar

    I’m so glad you liked Naked! It cracked me up!
    I need to read some of the “I am…” picture books. I will have to order some from the library to post about on Wednesdays 🙂
    Loved that books were a priority even on vacation! That is how I know you are one of my people.
    Happy reading this week! 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Definitely get your hands on some of the I Am books…. I only flipped through a couple of the other titles, but I’m going to order the Abe Lincoln one for my kids. They’re fascinated by him. I even visited the Oak Park library on my trip last week. Great children’s room! I read a few PBs there. Kind of jealous of the amazing selection! My husband is pretty sure that nobody else in the world would go to another town’s public library when traveling, but I’m sure some other members of the Nerdy Book Club would!

  9. carriegelson Avatar

    I opened this post first with all of the #IMWAYR posts but then saved it for last so I could come back and savour. But first the emotional stuff – Surprise sounds like it had quite the surprise for you – yikes. I have the other two titles but haven’t read this one yet. They are quietly powerful books. Oh sigh – – > Bread and Jam for Frances? Such a book in our household. I must have read that story to my kids at least 100 times. I think with prompting, I could recite the entire thing. The Promise and Naked! are recent favourites of mine – for very very different reasons obviously. Just loving all of the picture book love. As usual, I wish we could gush and rave over strong coffee but we are just too many miles (in my world. kilometres) away! Happy reading!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m wondering if the Mies Van Hout books are often given as gifts? I’ve never heard of him/her, but the children’s bookstore had a lot of copies of 2 or 3 of his/her books. I did like the colorful, whimsical art, but “letting go”? SERIOUSLY? Way to ruin a mom’s life! LOL. I am certain my mother read Bread & Jam to me at least 100 times–and Bedtime for Frances at least 200. She was hoping that I would embrace the lesson at the heart of Bedtime for Frances! I wish for the same thing, Carrie, and someday it is going to happen!

  10. Andrea Payan (@payanar) Avatar

    My brain is reeling at all these great books to add to the TBR pile. It sounds like you had a very emotional experience with Surprise. I am glad you read it first before sharing with your son. You also seem to have found a good non-fiction title with Reparenting. Lastly, thank you for sharing about Will Richardson. I will be looking for his Kindle single book. Have a great reading week!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’d love to know your thoughts about the Will Richardson Kindle single. I read that piece a couple of years ago just as I was trying to figure out why the students in my Methods courses weren’t taking what we did in class and applying it in the ways I thought they would in their professional lives. I redesigned the course to focus on learning rather than teaching, and I saw much more success. Richardson can be fairly harsh in his critique of public schools, and I could tell at the conference I was at last week, some public school teachers did not think his words were necessarily fair or accurate. But my own kids do pretty much nothing except worksheets at their school, and that’s primarily what I see when I’m out visiting and observing in other school districts in my area. So I think there is a long way to go if we really want school to be meaningful and valuable for all children!

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