Thursday, June 23, 2016

Easy Readers with diverse characters: Expanding our collection (ages 5-8)

Easy Readers help children take their first independent steps in the world of reading. They allow children to take charge of their reading, to enter the world of a story and build meaning from both the words and the pictures. These books typically are small in size, use simple vocabulary and large font sizes.

The Cat in the Hat and Henry & Mudge are classic Easy Readers, but they do not reflect the lives of my students today. For several years, I've worked to expand our collection to include diverse characters, specifically in terms of race and ethnicity. Here are a few recent favorites:

  • Bradford Street Buddies: Backyard Camp-Out, by Jerdine Nolen -- Similar to the classic Henry & Mudge stories, this series features an African American family living in a multicultural suburban neighborhood.
  • Buzz Beaker and the Super Fast Car, by Cari Meister -- uzz Beaker, an African American boy who is always making new quirky things, invents a super-fast car to help get everywhere on time, but it will only go fast. Super fun? Or a recipe for disaster?
  • Get a Hit, Mo! by David Adler -- African American Mo Jackson may be the youngest and smallest player on his baseball team, but he overcomes the odds in this satisfying story that will have readers cheering him on at every step.
  • Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same! by Grace Lin -- Ling and Ting, Chinese American sisters who are identical twins, may look the same but they like different things, react to situations differently and want everyone to remember that they are not exactly the same. A delightful series full of humor and heart.
  • Sofia Martinez: My Family Adventures, by Jacqueline Jules -- Sofia’s happy, loving Latino family brings smiles, and many readers will relate to her stories. Bright illustrations and short chapters create lots of kid appeal.
  • Want to Play? (Confetti Kids) by Paula Yoo -- Pablo, Lily and their friends play together at the local park, having fun on the swings, playing basketball and going on the play structures. A diverse cast of characters and short, easy sentences make this a terrific choice for new readers.
  • When Andy Met Sandy, by Tomie dePaola -- A sweet story that shows a friendship developing slowly, tentatively between two children who meet at a local playground: dark-skinned Andy and red-headed Sandy. Expressive but simple illustrations and short, easy sentences make this very accessible for new readers.
Many thanks to the publishers for sharing review copies: HMH, Capstone, Penguin, Candlewick, Lee & Low and Simon & Schuster. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Sunday, June 19, 2016

You Got This! Unleash your awesomeness, find your path, and change your world, by Maya Penn (ages 11-16)

If you want to fuel your teens and tweens' creative fires or you need a pep talk yourself, you'll want to read or listen to Maya Penn's inspirational debut. I especially enjoyed the audiobook, which Maya narrates herself.

Maya is a sixteen-year-old entrepreneur (see Maya's Ideas) who talks directly from her heart, encouraging other teens to find their passions and follow their dreams. Her TED talks have been watched by millions, and this inspirational self-help drew me in right away.
You Got This!
Unleash your awesomeness, find your path, and change your world

by Maya S. Penn
North Star Way / Simon & Schuster, 2016
Amazon
Your local library
ages 11-16
Curious, enthusiastic and genuine are words that immediately come to mind when I think about Maya Penn. At eight years old, she started her own company by selling headbands that she created. She's also really interested in animation, so she taught herself how to create her own films. In this inspirational self-help book, she shares about her own experiences to encourage other teens to develop their own passions and create plans to change the world.

Tweens and teens enjoy Maya's upbeat, casual tone as she starts by talking about her process. She encourages readers to use a dream board to brainstorm ideas and identify what creates sparks they might use to ignite their plans. I especially liked the way she helps kids understand different thinking styles and ways to keep yourself motivated.
watch Maya Penn on The View talk about her business
The length and detail make this best suited for middle and high schoolers, although several fifth graders were drawn to it. I'd love to see some more of Maya's terrific ideas illustrated for the tween audience--much like an American Girl book. Hand this to creative teens and see what dreams they build, or recommend it to families as a great audiobook for summer listening.

Library friends, I'm excited that Maya will be speaking at ALA Annual Conference on Saturday, June 25th at 3:30pm.

Many thanks to the publisher Simon & Schuster for sharing review copies--I've also purchased several copies for local schools and summer reading projects. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hilo: "Outstanding!!" shout 1st graders at author visit with Judd Winick (ages 6-10)

When a room full of 1st graders love something, you know right away. No question about it. When our fantastic Jefferson School librarian Adoria Williams asked the crowd of kids gathered on Monday what they thought of HILO, they shouted,
"He's OUTSTANDING!!!"
Hilo, the star of Judd Winick's new graphic novel series, often shouts the very same thing when he likes something. And you could tell that the 1st graders not only approve of Hilo's enthusiasm, they relate to it completely.
When Ms. Williams introduced our special guest for the day, cartoonist Judd Winick, the 1st graders all reacted with a Hilo-inspired, "AAAAHH!!!" -- a combination of excitement, awe and general OMG-I-can't-believe-this!

Judd connected immediately with our students, sharing his story about how he grew up as a fan of Star Wars, Looney Toons and King Kong. Our kids loved the references to popular culture (it's amazing how long-lasting these pop icons are) and were totally hooked. He also loved reading comic strips in newspapers, especially comics that made him laugh.

Hilo is the culmination of all that Winick has loved since he was a kid: super heroes, goofy jokes, action and adventure, and comics. Throw in two best friends, DJ and Gina, and there's someone for everyone to relate to. And it's a recipe that absolutely works for kids ages 6-10. This makes a great read-aloud for 1st graders, or a first "I-read-it-20-times" book for 3rd graders.

Our 1st graders were so engaged throughout Judd's presentation. Just look at the excitement in this kid's raised hand:
First graders were so engaged by Judd Winick's presentation
We were so lucky to have Judd Winick visit Jefferson School in Berkeley. Our librarian Ms. Williams and our first grade teacher Barb Wanger both read aloud Hilo, so kids were excited to meet Judd and knew the story and characters. The school was decorated with "Hilo for President" signs.

Not only are these kids now fans for life, but they also see that creating stories and comics is important. Parents who came along mentioned how much their kids have been talking about Hilo at home. This engagement was crucial for such a successful visit.
Adoria Williams, Judd Winick and Mary Ann Scheuer
I'd like to finish up with a few of the first grader's questions and comments (followed by Judd's replies):
  • "There's also a new book called Cat Kong!" and Judd replied, "I love a good monster story!"
  • "It's cool when Hilo fights the monsters!"
  • "What happened to the foot they put in the clubhouse?" and Judd encouraged them to look for clues at the end of the book.
  • "Why does Hilo only have four fingers" and Judd explained about the tradition in comics going back to early days of Steamboat Willie.
  • "Where Hilo lives looks a lot like San Francisco." "Yes it does!" exclaimed Judd. "I wanted to base it here because I live here, but then I decided that I really wanted snow to be part of the story. So I created a new place just for the setting of this story."
  • "I like drawing and making up stories too." "Can I give you a piece of advice?" asked Judd. " If you can, try to come up with the ending before you get too far along. I really wish someone had suggested that to me when I was younger."
  • "Can you hurry up and write the 5th book?!!"
  • And finally, "How does Hulk walk with no shoes?" "What a great question! The Hulk is my favorite character! I think his feet must be like size 36 and super tough, so he can walk over just about anything. Don't you think?!"
For everyone who's now interested in Hilo, here's an excerpt from Hilo: Saving the Whole Wide World, the second book in the series that is just out now:

Judd, we can't wait to invite you back to talk to more kids in Berkeley. Thank you so much for sharing your great comics and inspiring our growing readers. Many thanks to Random House Children's Books and Books, Inc. for making this visit possible. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Summer Reading 2016 for 5th & 6th graders: #FamiliesRead

Kids know that practice is important in developing any skill; our job as parents is making our expectations clear AND creating a positive environment to encourage practice. You'll have much more success persuading your kids to read if they are able to choose what to read.

Validate their reading choices, engaging them to think and talk about what they read. Prod them a little to try something new--I often like to talk about it in terms of having a varied reading diet. Here are some of my favorite books to hook 5th and 6th graders.

Exciting Adventure & Fantasy
Ambassador, by William Alexander
Jinx, by Sage Blackwood
Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard, by Jonathan Auxier
A Tale Dark & Grimm, by Adam Gidwitz

Funny Stories (levels Q-R-S-T)
The 52-Story Treehouse, by Andy Griffiths
Dead End in Norvelt, by Jack Gantos
Timmy Failure, by Stephan Pastis
Zorgamazoo, by Robert Weston

Adventure and Historical Fiction
Echo, by Pam Munoz Ryan
A Night Divided, by Jennifer Nielsen
Some Kind of Courage, by Dan Gemeinhart
The War that Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Graphic Novels We Love!
Amulet series, by Kazu Kibuishi
The Nameless City, by Faith Erin Hicks
Olympians series, by George O'Connor
Roller Girl, by Victoria Jamieson

Stories that Touch Your Heart
Booked, by Kwame Alexander
Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, by Laura Shovan
Pax, by Sara Pennypacker

Fascinating Nonfiction
Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weapon, by Steve Sheinkin
Where Do Presidents Come From? by Michael Townsend
Rhythm Ride: A Trip through the Motown Sound, by Andrea Davis Pinkney
You Got This! Unleash Your Awesomeness, Find Your Path and Change the World! by Maya Penn

CLICK HERE for all of the 2016 summer reading lists, grades K - 5.

If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Summer Reading 2016 for 3rd & 4th graders -- #FamiliesRead

Kids read every day during the school year, sharing books they like with friends. Keep those reading muscles strong over the summer by feeding them a steady diet of fun books to read!

Here are some of my favorite chapter books, graphic novels and nonfiction for kids who have finished 3rd and 4th grades. Each day this week, I'll be sharing a post to help families read over the summer, organized by grade levels.
Click for a link to the full summer reading lists
including printable PDFs
Note: Our schools use the Fountas & Pinnell reading levels to help indicate "just right books" for students. I like to band these levels together, to look at a group of similar books.

Favorite Chapter Book Series (levels N-O-P)
Bad Kitty, by Nick Bruel
Dory Fantasmagory, by Abby Hanlon
Lola Levine, by Monica Brown

Funny Stories (levels Q-R-S-T)
The 13-Story Treehouse, by Andy Griffiths
The Terrible Two, by Mac Barnett and Jory John
Timmy Failure, by Stephan Pastis

Adventure and Historical Fiction (levels Q-R-S)
Chasing Secrets, by Gennifer Choldenko
A Night Divided, by Jennifer Nielsen
Some Kind of Courage, by Dan Gemeinhart

Exciting Adventure & Fantasy (levels Q-R-S-T)
Forest of Wonders (Wing and Claw), by Linda Sue Park
Shadows of Sherwood, by Kekla Magoon
Wings of Fire, by Tui Sutherland

New Graphic Novels We Love!
Coral Reefs: Science Comics, by Maris Wicks
Roller Girl, by Victoria Jamieson
The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Romeo & Juliet, by Ian Lendler

Stories that Touch Your Heart (levels Q-R-S-T)
The 14th Goldfish, by Jennifer L. Holm
Booked, by Kwame Alexander
The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, by Laura Shovan

Fascinating Nonfiction
Baseball: Then to WOW, by Sports Illustrated Kids
Can We Save the Tiger, by Martin Jenkins
Dog Finds Lost Dolphins! (National Geographic Chapters), by Elizabeth Carney

CLICK HERE for all of the 2016 summer reading lists, grades K - 5.

If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Summer reading 2016 for 1st & 2nd graders -- #FamiliesRead

First and second graders have made monumental leaps in their reading this year. Keep those reading muscles strong by feeding them a steady diet of fun books to read!

Here are some of my favorite beginning readers, chapter books, graphic novels and picture books for kids just finishing 1st and 2nd grade. Each day this week, I'll be sharing a post to help families read over the summer, organized by grade levels.
Click for link to full summer reading lists
including printable form
Note: Our schools use the Fountas & Pinnell reading levels to help indicate "just right books" for students. I like to band these levels together, to look at a group of similar books.

Beginning to Read (levels G-H-I)
Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret, by Bob Shea
Don't Throw It To Mo! by David Adler

Developing Readers (levels J-K)
Abuela's Birthday (Sofia Martinez), by Jacqueline Jules
Buzz Beaker and the Outer Space Trip, by Cari Meister

Exploring Animals All Around
I, Fly: The Buzz about Flies and How Awesome They Are, by Bridget Heos
Puppies and Kittens (Scholastic Discover More), by Penelope Arlon

Beginning with Chapter Books (levels L-M)
Boris for the Win, by Andrew Joyner
Lola Levine Is Not Mean, by Monica Brown

Graphic Novel Series We Love!
Bird and Squirrel, by James Burks
Hilo, by Judd Winick

Having Fun with Chapter Book Series (levels N-O-P)
The Critter Club, by Callie Barkley
Notebook of Doom, by Troy Cummings

Fascinating Nonfiction
Miguel Cabrera, by Matt Doeden
Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions, by Chris Barton

Picture Books Full of Imagination
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music, by Margarita Engle
Surf's Up, by Kwame Alexander

CLICK HERE for all of the 2016 summer reading lists, grades K - 5.

If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books