Saturday, October 5, 2013

Close Reading Blog-a-thon Post

Falling in Love with Close Reading... 
You had me at hello.   

Joy, love, passion, getting at the heart of the matter, like Chris and Kate,  I believe that reading and writing workshops are all about this “heart” work. Regie Routman once said, “Unless we reach into our students’ hearts, we have no entry into their minds.”   

 Joy, passion, love…all  lead to learning.   Falling in Love with Close Reading,  Awakening the Heart, Book Love, The Joy of Planning, such powerful  themes resonate throughout these texts.  These are just to name a few professional resources by those educators who have left heartprints*  on our work… and the work we do with students.

The term heartprint was derived from an Eleanor Roosevelt quote:

“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”


I have no doubt that Chris and Kate's upcoming book will do just that.  Inspired by their blogs and their ability to push our thinking,  they also remind us to find joy in what we do and to remember the "heart work" in reaching all learners.
As Chris says, "Close reading is not something to be done to students. " It is not meant to be the way in which we read everything.  It is also not just about the texts.  It is about the thinking.  Like Chris mentioned, “looking closely at nonfiction can lead you to love the subject, the writing, heck perhaps even the entire text-type more.”  Read more from that post here:
There it is again: L-O-V-E. Whether it be a professional text, a life altering book like Wonder or The One and Only Ivan, it will be that which sticks with you because the author has left a mark (or in the case of Wonder and Ivan is able to tug at your heart strings). 
Heartprint books, heartprint authors.  When thinking about "close reading", I think it is important to reflect on those texts worthy of examination.  This is why we read "closely".  We read to examine. We read to admire. We read to make sense . We study. We reread.  We question. We  wonder.  We fall in love.
We all have mentor authors, both professional author educators that impact our teaching, and authors of children's literature that enter our classrooms and become our co-teachers.
“With a room full of authors to help us teach, teaching writing
(or close reading)  doesn’t have to be so lonely."--Katie Wood Kay
Mentor authors, like, Katie Wood Ray and Jeff Anderson, have inspired me to be more attentive.  The invitation to notice creates opportunities for close reading.  I choose texts with my students that we want to emulate.  We use noticing charts to name what the author is doing, think about why, and then we try it. 
So go ahead read closely. Find those powerful reading and writing connections.  Read like writers and write like readers.  How else do we come to know?  We study.  We wonder. We ask questions. We seek answers.  We look within and beyond the text.  We investigate. And finally we experiment.  Isn’t that a path for those career and college ready? 
Chris and Kate remind us to reflect on purpose, passion,  and process.  What can we study closely that will help us teach the readers and the writers in our room?  What might stick with them tomorrow? Re-read, re-visit and re-interpret those texts. Find the passion, joy and love for learning.  Fall in love.

Chris “nudged” me to write a post.  He also asked me to share some of the mentor authors for nonfiction that I love.  I tried to include all in a pic collage, but found out you can only hold 30 pictures.  Being nerdy, that is not nearly enough.  The list continues to grow and I feel lucky to have nerdy friends that introduce me to new titles often.  Would love to hear from you too.
Experiment with note making vs. note taking.   Students will be fascinated to "see" the notebook of Leonardo Davinci and inspired to keep their own inquiry notebook.


Illustration Study: 

Explore Patterns in this book by Diane De Groot
What Dogs Do... What Dogs Don't Do
Great parallel text for illustration study- explore again and again.

April Pulley Sayre

Stars Beneath Your Bed is all about Dust.  The interesting facts about dust are explained through beautiful language and make learning fun. April Pulley Sayres has many titles  for  young researchers: chants, alphabet books and more. 


You can explore text structure with students, but the real treat is sharing this for its scary but true humor. 
Click to see how to "operate" moms and find tips and rules.  Great model of voice for nonfiction writing. 

All Abouts:

Unique look at a different kind of "all about" book. Wonderful collection of short text that explores ways animals use bubbles:

Fiona Bayrock's website for more info
Fiona Bayrock's website

Alphabet Books:

                 Short text arranged in alphabetical order that celebrates 26 women and 26 men who made a difference in our world.
 Front Cover

Photo Essays:

"Spark an interest..."


Backyard Detective: Critters Up Close


Check out the Nic Bishop interview on his experience as researcher and how  his "childhood sense of wonder about the world..." as well as his passion and the process impact his work. 


 Poetry favorites:


J. Patrick Lewis

Visit: to connect with more authors.
 Which nonfiction mentor authors and texts do you love?



Saturday, August 10, 2013


Do you want to know what picture books your "edufriends" can't live without?
Today is your lucky day! 
Thanks  to Cathy Mere @cathymere and Mandy Robek @mandyrobek  for hosting this event and supporting the addiction of many picture book fans.  You can see the  variety of choices and categories that have been highlighted before in Cathy's NBC post here:
As most #nerdybookclub friends know, narrowing down a list of "must haves" is very difficult.  If you regularly follow @nerdybookclub you are privy to the many wonderful top ten lists that support students and teacher readers of all ages. 
For this year's #PB10for10, I tried to narrow it down to books I love for building community.   These books celebrate diversity and also support a sense of community for our readers, writers and thinkers.
"Nobody cares what you know, until they know that you care."
  Charise Harper
 I also love her book about healthy choices, exercise and the heart:
Which is why making a list is always so hard...the lists keep growing for us addicts.
The Colors of Us by Karen Katz
This book is an oldie, but a goodie.  It is filled with beautiful language and  images.  It simply illustrates a powerful message about how unique and beautiful we all are.
"A laugh sounds the same, as does a blech, a sneeze..."  One Green Apple will leave your reader with a smile as wide as Farrah's and possibly in need of a Kleenex or two.

Zero by Kathryn Otoshi
Zero demonstrates power in team work and helps with conversations about self worth and our unique talents and strengths.
Zero is the follow up to Kathryn's amazing book One (which should also make this list)
 Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon   (I really want to ask her if Ralph was inspired by our own very special @fletcher ralph).
Struggling with finding ideas for writing, this young writer learns that stories are everywhere.  Speaks to the heart of the story: writing from your experiences and passions.
 Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind by Judy Finchler & Kevin O'Malley
Find what they love. Match books to readers... for those readers that need that extra special TLC. 
 Hey, Little Ant By Phillip and Hannah Hoose
"Should the ant get squished, should the ant go free? We'll leave the kid with raised up shoe...
what do you think the kid should do?"
 Love sharing this book to discuss choices we make and how we impact one another in our classroom and beyond.
Say Hello by Jack and Michael Foreman. 
Product Details   
 #choosekind - One little word can make a big difference. 
Only One You by Linda Kranz

We are all unique and I can't wait to hear more about others' #pb10for10. 
Be sure to check out Cathy's blog to read and follow other lists of #pb10for10:
Happy Reading and Happy almost New Year!
Thanks for adding to my TBR with #pb10for10. 
Here is a link to an older NBC post I shared with the Top 10 Picture books that had me at hello- These are also titles I couldn't start the year off without. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Nonfiction "Must Haves" from JoEllen McCarthy @imalwayslearnin

Thank you to Cathy Mere, Julie Balen and Mandy Robek for hosting this exciting event. 
Beware my list is more than 10.  It was fun putting together this list  #NF10for10.
I am excited to learn from others as I watch my own TBR list grow. Thanks to all for sharing.  Would love to hear your comments.

Gene Barretta

Gene Barretta offers simple picture books filled with great information and fun facts about  the infamous Thomas Edison, Leonardo DaVinci and Benjamin Franklin.  My personal favorite is Neo  Leo because in this book it celebrates the "ageless ideas"- found in DaVinci's notebook.  Great mentor text to speak to the power of reflecting, note-making, and recording ideas.  Neo Leo gives us a glimpse into DaVinci's "thinking notebook" and how such a notebook allows for endless possibilities. Trailer for Neo Leo

Seymour Simon

 What list of NF picture books would be complete without mentioning the amazing work of mentor author, Seymour Simon?  His books are beautiful examples filled with craft lessons to inspire reading, writing and thinking about informational texts.  Seymour Simon has a great website and can  also be found on Twitter sharing kernels of wisdom to get students thinking. 
A few of our favorites are below:

Product Details

Can't wait for his newest title to be released in April:
Seymour Simon’s Extreme Oceans

Steve Jenkins

 Steve Jenkins inspires us to wonder and to ask questions about the world around us.  He inspires us to explore ideas and to want to learn more.

"Every book starts with an idea. Usually the idea is really a question..."


Looking forward to his newest title where he collaborates with Marty Crump:
          Coming Soon:

Nicola Davies

Nicola Davies's book have a way of informing  and entertaining the reader as she explores topics kids can't get enough of like-- the unmentionable poo or parasites such as head lice below: (Kids want to know more...)

Poo     What's eating you? Parasites: the inside story
You can hear Nicola speak about her love for animals and her inquisitive nature on her website:

More Mentor Authors

Marissa Moss is the author of many amazing biography picture books about influential women in history.  Some favorites include: Brave Harriet, Mighty Jackie and Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds: a Civil War Hero.  Her newest title is a NF picture book about Kenichi Zenimura a Japanese American who played with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and brought baseball to the internment camps: Barbed Wire Baseball.

Independent Dames
Laurie Halse Anderson has a favorite about powerful women in history.

Other  authors of nonfiction biographies I had to include in the #NF10 for10:

Kathllen Krull

Doreen Rappaport

Tanya Lee Stone

A Little Something Extra

What Color is My World by Kareem Abdul Jabbar is a  hybrid text with a parallel story, fun facts and additional "reports" included. This book explores African American Inventors. The additional inserts are an added bonus that serve as great examples of writing with voice.

Poetry and Informational Text

Finally this list would not be complete without mentioning the authors of poetry books that we often include in our  informational text sets:

Douglas Florian
Joyce Sidman
Bobbi Katz
Lee Bennet Hopkins
J. Patrick Lewis

Additional Resources

Check out: Ink Think Tank to connect with other nonfiction authors and for information about other "must have" titles...but beware your list will keep growing.