On my blog this week:
- A curation of my favorite online reading
- A celebration of all the things I loved about traveling to Chicago for a conference
- Some thoughts on why it’s hard to implement the ideas we learn at conferences
- A slice of life about taking travel photos
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.
Lovely illustrations in The Lion and the Bird, a quiet story of friendship written and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc.
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, 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 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 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.
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.
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 would make a terrific pairing with Chloe and the Lion or Z Is for Moose.
Reading 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: 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.