Monday, March 29, 2010

The Hallelujah Flight

The Hallelujah Flight

The Hallelujah Flight by Phil Bildner and illustrated by John Holyfield is another great picture book based on actual events. I must confess that I haven't even heard of James Banning before. So this book was a total new discovery to me, and I admit loving learning about the first black aviator that obtained a license and the first African American to complete a transcontinental flight.

James Banning had a dream and it was very clear to him. He wanted to fly a plane from sea to sea using his OXX6 Eagle Rock as their dream plane. There were a couple of problems with this dream:
1. their plane was too old. It's entire engine needs to be replaced.
2. They had no money
3. Times were hard, so people really didn't have much to even spare.

But a dream is a dream. And problems like such didn't stop James Banning and his copilot Thomas Allen to achieving their dreams. Both friends thought of creative ways to make their journey possible, collecting food along the way, receiving donations from people and sometimes experiencing discrimination along the way as well. But James Banning was an example of strength and perseverance, so these rocks along the way did not stop him from becoming the first African American to flight over the Atlantic ocean completing his dream! Hallelujah!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Poetry Friday

Oh Douglas Florian! He did it again. Brilliant. Beautiful. Poetrees by Douglas Florian is one of my latest favorite poetry books. When you open the book, you will see a table of content presented in a vertical way symbolizing a tall gorgeous tree. Inside, you will find poems that celebrate all kinds of tree from Coconut Trees, Oaks to Weeping Willows. But it does not stop there, you can also find poems on the different parts of a tree from its roots through barks and leaves. All poems and illustrations in this book are presented in a vertical position strengthening the vision of trees and its sizes. The illustrations completes this book perfectly. The smooth yet strong oil pastel colors compliments the poems in simple yet beautiful ways.
My ELLs studetns LOVE Douglas Florian. They have read so many of his books but best of all, they understand his poems. And I believe that is the key to engage young children into poetry.
Poetry Friday is hosted at The Drift Record/Julie Larios. I can't imagine a better way to start the weekend by immersing yourself with good poetry. Happy Reading! Enjoy the journey.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down My latest find at our amazing Columbus Metropolitan Library includes this book: SIT-IN How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting DOWN by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Illustrated by Brian Pinkney. May I just say, "WOW!" Hands down to Andrea and Brian Pinkney for a job so well done. This inspirational story retells the events from February 1st, 1960 when four friends went to a "ONLY WHITE" restaurant, and waited patiently and peacefully to be served. Their order was a simple one: a doughnut and coffee with cream on the side. Their plan was simple: they'll wait peacefully to be served. But not only the waitress ignored them and refused to serve them, but people around the treated them either like they were invisible or yelled at them. But day after day, these four friends sat at the counter waiting to be served, and since they didn't do or say much to other people, they brought homework and books to read. But day after day, they got treated the same: as if they were invisible.

However, something WAS happening. People started to hear about these four friends that are waiting to be serve. Soon, people were following the four friends on the radio and T.V. The impact of their peaceful actions were huge. And people started to notice them and even support them.

I won't tell you the ending but let me just say what a tremendous find at our local library. I enjoyed reading this book so much, I always feel inspired and energized when I read stories about real people, real fights and struggles, and perseverance.
This book is truly a treasure to have in the classroom. The poetic and rhythmic language in the book makes it so enjoyable to read aloud. At the end of the book, you'll find a Civil RIghts Timeline which is a treasure all by itself. The author also included a page with other books in the same subject and some suggested websites for further exploration.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A story about courage

'Testing the Ice'When I finished reading Testing the Ice- A True Story about Jackie Robinson by Sharon Robinson, I sighed and read it again. There are so many things I love about this book. First, the story is about a man that not only talked about being brave and standing up strong, but who was a living proof of all that. Jackie Robinson, knows as the man who opened the doors for blacks in Major League Baseball changing history for ever. So knowing this about Jackie Robinson, makes you appreciate this picture book even more. Especially when the story is told by his daughter, Sharon Robinson, the author of this book.
When Jackie Robinson moved to Connecticut, the family is able to spend time and fun moments around the beautiful lake in their property. Regardless of what season it was, the lake provided endless hours of entertainment and fun. Except that Jackie never went past the shore, and even though the children begged him to join them in the lake, he just wouldn't. Jackie shared time with his kids and their friends in other ways though. By sharing stories from his baseball days, true stories of bravery and courage. The children were always so fascinated with all the details he provided.

One winter the children were ready to go ice skating on the lake. But they need his father approval to make sure it was safe to ice skate on it. And this is the moment in the book that makes you wonder, is he always afraid to go to close to water? Jackie Robinson's determination and courage make him go and "test the ice" even when he doesn't know how to swim. 'Testing the Ice' illustration

Kadir Nelson's illustrations enhances the story in magnificent ways. It is a work of art that I can not stop looking at. Kadir Nelson's careful details to all the pictures make those come alive. Kadir Nelson is quickly becoming my favorite illustrator. And the fact that the pages in this book are larger than most picture books compliments Kadir's work of art beautifully.

Do not wait too long, get this book in your hands and be prepared to be amazed at the perfection that words and pictures can create.

Enjoy the journey. Happy Reading. Happy Spring.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Tale of Two Seders

I am always excited when I find books that celebrate diversity, whether that is culture, holidays, traditions or stories from around the world. I love to see people represented in children's books. I love to learn about what other people believe or celebrate life. A Tale of Two Seders by Mindy Avra Portney and Valeria Cis tells a story about celebrating Passover in two different households. A little girl is concerned about celebrating Passover now that her parents are divorced. Her life is well organized since she has her own bedroom and her own things at each house. When it is time to celebrate Passover, with its two seders, gives her a perfect chance to celebrate this important holiday with each parent. The Tale of Two Seders narrates the beautiful traditions that Jewish families have when celebrating Passover. The author who is the Rabbi of Temple Sinai in Washington, D.C. included at the back of the book Charoset Recipes and glossary with the important terms used throughout the story. I was also happily surprised to see that the illustrator is from my beautiful country, Argentina. Her illustrations are absolutely fantastic capturing the sweet and tender images in the characters, especially of the little girl. I loved her work. I also enjoyed checking out her website/blog. You can see more of her work there.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Share a Story-Shape a Future

(Logo created by Elizabeth O. Dulemba)

Wow! What an amazing project! What a tremendous week of learning, conversation and ideas. All these was possible thanks to the wonderful literacy journey Share a Story- Shape a Future. This annual blog tour for literacy is possible thanks to a team of bloggers whose passion for books, reading and learning is shown throughout their blogs. Please see who those amazing contributors are by clicking right here.

Today at My World/Mi Mundo, I would like to answer one of their prompt questions:

Do you have a favorite chapter book for reading with kids of different ages (e.g. 4, 9, 13)?

As many of you already know I teach English as a Second Language to students in grades K through 5th. So, I have a wide range of ages I work with, therefore, I'm always keeping my eyes open for rich literature that my students could benefit and enjoy from it, despite some language barriers. Here at My World/Mi Mundo, I have shared with you all several times some of the things I look for in books to read/share with my ELLs. I'm a language teacher, and I work with ELLs, thus, I'm always paying attention to the language/choice of words used in a book. One of the purposes in my read aloud is for students to enjoy the story, love the characters, get into the story without worrying too much about trying to understand the meaning of each word. If a book contains too many slangs/idioms, I know that I will spend a lot of time explaining the meaning of those phrases than reading the book it self. BUT again, it all depends on the purpose/intentions of your read alouds. Sometimes, my intention and goal for reading certain books is to tune my students into paying attention to the choice of words, language, idioms that the author decides to use in order to enhance meaning. So again, it is all about being intentional.

So, what are some of the chapter books that my ELLs and I have shared and absolutely loved? Well, here we go:

My first grade ELL class is in love with the series Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo. And I knew they would! How could you not love a pig who gets so extremely happy when she gets to eat "toast with a great deal of butter on it." Seriously! How adorable is Mercy. Kate DiCamillo has created the perfect chapter book for 1st graders. The chapters are not long at all, there are tons of illustrations for support, and the familiarity of the characters throughout the series makes it easier for young readers to learn and get to know the characters really well. Every time my 1st grade class and I finish reading one of the Mercy Watson books, we have a "Toast Party" with a great deal of butter on it (just like Mercy!) and we write about our favorite part in that book.

We are so lucky that Kate DiCamillo wrote 6 in this series. How great is this? The books below are shown in the order of publication.

Kate DiCamillo won the 2007 Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor for Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride. This award is presented for excellence in beginner reader books. I highly recommend these series of chapter book for students in K-Grade 2. The laughs, the predictions, the conversations are all part of the reading journey. So, enjoy the journey!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

An amazing Reading Week ahead of me...

There are so many things I'm looking forward this week...

#1. Share a Story-Shape a Future starts tomorrow Monday March 8th through March 12. The theme for this year: "It takes a Village" Get ready for a full week of great discussions on the topic of reading, exchanging ideas & opinions, feeling inspired by a community that promote the love for reading. By the way, Elizabeth Dulemba is the creator of the beautiful reading button at the corner of this page created for this literacy project. Please click here for more information on the topics to be discussed this week, guidelines for participation and the amazing giveaways for this week!

#2. It's Right to Read Week at our school this week. My friend Michelle created this event for our school four years ago. So proud of her work, her vision and initiative. Our Right to Read Week is an intense week of fun with a special Literacy Night on Thursday evening.

I feel very blessed to live in a country where there so many wonderful literacy projects. So many people are active, doing things for our children and our community and not just "talking" about best literacy projects. And that's what distinguishes so many people from others, it is so important to turn words into ACTIONS and then we can call ourselves "advocates" for our students' rights.

Let the amazing learning journey begins!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Poetry Friday

Yesterday we had a sunny day here in Columbus, OH and it made me feel rejuvenated inside just to think of Spring coming soon, Poetry Month in April, and all the great festivities around it.
I found some great recording of poems that could be used as "Mentor Recordings" (like mentor texts). The website Poetry For Kids have a section called Funny Poetry Podcast that I enjoyed. The reading was fantastic, so smooth and the poems were perfect for children. I'm thinking about using this website as one of the tools to introduce my students to Poetry Podcast. What a great way to practice fluency, intonation, reading with expression but having a real purpose for doing it. My favorite poem in this Poetry Podcast section of Poetry for Kids was the one entitled Please Don't Read This Poem. Fantastic reading! Can't wait to try this out with my students! :-)
Happy Friday everyone! The roundup for Poetry Friday is at Teaching Books.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Best Family in the World

The Best Family in the World
This story will get to you for sure. In the story The Best Family in the World by Susana Lopez, we go inside a little girl's life who waits and waits patiently in the orphanage until a family is ready to adopt her. When Carlota gets called in the director's office, she is told she is being adopted by a family. Of course, at that moment Carlota feels excited, happy, but also nervous. She is so nervous she can't sleep. So she lets her imagination wonder if this new family might be a family of pastry chefs. Or a family of pirates. Or a family of tiger trainers with an adventurous life. Or better yet, may be they are a family of astronauts. Poor Carlota, has anxiety, does not let her mind rest at all. And finally the day she meets the family is here and she realizes that this family has everything she could ask for, making them without any doubt, the BEST family in the world. Sweetly written, with illustrations created by Ulises Wensell that portrait the wildest imagination Carlota has. This books is a celebration of love, hope, family and trust.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Small Projects, Big Difference

I know I am a 100% a visual learner. I know that I need to have visuals surrounding my learning environment and also as reminders/evidence of my thinking and growing. I used Shelfari and Goodreads to track the books that I read for fun. Even though these are both great web tools record the books I read, I felt like I needed something else. It took me a while to discover what I felt I was missing... until I realized that in my little apartment I needed a visual reminder of my goals. I graduated with my masters degree from The Ohio State University with my area of specialization in Children's Literature. Creating a blog to talk about the books that I read as a teacher, a reader and a learner was one of the challenges I put on myself as a way to keep up on the world of children's literature. I am happy to say that in a month, this blog will be two years old. And I am so so glad I made this choice. Besides, I got to meet some amazing & inspirational people through this blog.This year, I added in my apartment that piece I felt I was "missing" and I created a simple but fun way to keep my focus/goals in mind.

Yes, yes, yes! I know! You are probably thinking, "Oh no, it came down to paper and pencil..." um, yes it did. And I'm not embarrassed to admit it. I know that anyone that knows me well enough, knows that I LOVE technology, but I also like to do creative projects in my little art studio.

Clipboard # 1 is painted with chalkboard paint, and I write a different reading quote each month. In February it read, " I am not a speed reader. I am a speed understander." Isaac Asimov. This quote is such a reflection of who I am as a reader.

Clipboard # 2 contains the actual book recording forms. It doesn't say anything special, it just have 15 lines per page. And my goal is to have at least three pages per month. I am happy, proud and humble to say that this month I read 45 books. :) Having some snow days definitely helped too!

Clipboard # 3 holds the books that I would like to read next (next month, next summer, next!). Some of these recommendations come from other blogs that I follow, from conferences I attend, or just great books I hear people talking about!

I must say, the visual learner in me is just as happy as can be. The kinesthetic learner in me loves to manipulate these clipboards while I read. What can I say? Whatever makes you happy. It's the journey that counts. Happy Reading! And Welcome March, we are so happy you are finally here!