Monday, December 05, 2016

Books I Want to Read

I have LOVED being on the NCTE Charlotte Huck Award Committee for the past three years.  I have loved reading with the lens of the Charlotte Huck and I feel like I've done a good job of keeping up with fiction picture books and middle grade fiction novels (although there are several that I haven't read yet..).  But I have missed some other kinds of reading I love--I have missed adult fiction. I've missed young adult fiction. And I've missed nonfiction reading. I've squeezed one in every few often but definitely feel like I have missed out on lots of great books in those categories.  So in preparation for winter break and winter in general. I am trying to start a small stack. It is a bit tricky getting back into reading after a few years on an award committee. So I am moving back in slowly, thinking about those must reads--books that I am hoping to read sooner rather than later.  Here are a few that are on my latest TBR stack.


Commonwealth by Ann Patchett





Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston










American Street by Ibi Zoboi (published in February 2017)


Snow White by Matt Phelan


Any other must-reads to add to my stack?
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Friday, December 02, 2016

Poetry Friday -- Call for Roundup Hosts



It's that time again. Six months have passed since last we queued up to host the Poetry Friday roundups.

If you'd like to host a roundup between January and June 2017, leave your choice(s) of date(s) in the comments. I'll update regularly to make it easier to see which dates have been claimed.

What is the Poetry Friday roundup? A gathering of links to posts featuring original or shared poems, or reviews of poetry books. A carnival of poetry posts. Here is an explanation that Rene LaTulippe shared on her blog, No Water River, and here is an article Susan Thomsen wrote for the Poetry Foundation.

Who can do the Poetry Friday roundup? Anyone who is willing to gather the links in some way, shape or form (Mr. Linky, "old school" in the comments-->annotated in the post, or ???) on the Friday of your choice. If you are new to the Poetry Friday community, jump right in, but perhaps choose a date later on so that we can spend some time getting to know each other.

How do you do a Poetry Friday roundup? If you're not sure, stick around for a couple of weeks and watch...and learn! One thing we're finding out is that folks who schedule their posts, or who live in a different time zone than you, appreciate it when the roundup post goes live sometime on Thursday.

How do I get the code for the PF Roundup Schedule for the sidebar of my blog? I'll post it in the files on the Kidlitosphere Yahoo group, and I'd be happy to send it to you if you leave me your email address. You can always find the schedule on the Kidlitosphere Central webpage.

Why would I do a Poetry Friday Roundup? Community, community, community. It's like hosting a poetry party on your blog!

And now for the where and when:

January
6   Linda at TeacherDance
13
20 Violet at Violet Nesdoly | Poems
27 Carol at Beyond Literacy Link

February
3
10 Katie at The Logonauts
17 Jone at Check it Out
24

March
10 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
24 Catherine at Reading to the Core
31 Amy at The Poem Farm

April
7   Irene at Live Your Poem
14 Dori at Dori Reads
28 JoAnn at Teaching Authors

May
5   Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup
12 Tara at A Teaching Life
26 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

June
2   Buffy at Buffy's Blog
9   Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
16 Carol at Carol's Corner
30 Diane at Random Noodling


Thursday, December 01, 2016

Poetry Friday -- Haiku-a-Day In December


photo via Unsplash


Hello, December
Orion races west
Big Dipper empties

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016



Last week, I launched my Haiku-a-Day in December project for this year. I was originally inspired by Bob Raczka's book, Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole, in which Santa writes a haiku a day from December 1-25. I thought, Hey, if Santa can do it, so can I!

Others who have played along in past years have written a month of Christmas Memory haiku. I've never been that organized, going more for Whatever Inspires Me Today, and writing probably as much senryu as haiku, and sometimes just writing short thoughts with 5-7-5 syllables. 

I've been studying some Poetry Friday Haiku mentors (looking at you, Robyn and Diane), and I subscribed to David Gerard's Daily Issa. I'm intrigued by the idea of layers of meaning in haiku -- the freedom of expression via metaphor, the foundation of the poem solidly in the natural world. And then, there was that thing that happened in November. I've felt compelled to add my voice to the conversation, but how...what...where...why?

So, I looked around on Twitter, found a hashtag that was previously unused -- #haikuforhealing -- and got started with my Haiku-a-Day in December a week early. It's helping my heart already -- both the writing, and the small community that's growing around #haikuforhealing. In addition to my tweets, I am archiving all of my haiku-Tweets in a single post at Poetrepository.

Join me, if you'd like. Find your voice, and find your audience, be it FaceBook, Twitter, your blog, a rented billboard. Use more than just the #haikuforhealing hashtag if you're so moved. Catherine double tagged a haiku with #commonplacemarvels (why isn't that hashtag chock full of poetry and photos and noticings?). I used #BetsyOurLoss to join the public education community's outrage at the naming of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary.

Today's haiku is a meditation on the passage of time. We can't stop it, we can't hold onto it. Better just to flow with it -- float the best we can, and when we swim, make our strokes sure and clean and powerful.

Bridget has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at wee words for wee ones. The Poetry Roundup Schedule sign-up for January - June will be posted tomorrow (12/2).


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Snow Day!


In the midst of another round of unseasonably high temperatures, I'm dreaming of a snow day.



Before Morning, by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes needs to be your next picture book read aloud, whether to your whole class, or to the child on your lap.

Study the details on the cover carefully for foreshadowing.

Read the story in the pictures along with the story in the words.

Make your wish...and see what happens!





Best in Snow, by April Pulley Sayre is a great companion to Before Morning. With rhyming text and gorgeous photos, Sayre teaches about the formation of snow and the way it changes with temperature shifts. There are more facts in the back of the book.




A Poem for Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney, and illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson, is the perfect third book in this snowy trio. It, too, is a poem. As Pinkney describes, it is a " 'collage verse,' 'bio-poem,' or 'tapestry narrative' in which factual components are layered with a mix of elements." Readers learn the story of the man who created one of the THE most iconic snowy day book AND transformed children's book publishing at the same time by including a "brown-sugar" "cocoa sprite" character.



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Still Learning to Read: A New Nonfiction Book


This is one of a series of blog posts that continue the conversation around Still Learning to Read--teaching reading to students in grades 3-6.  This series will run on the blog on Tuesdays starting in August 2016 and continue through the school year.



We are getting ready to really dig into nonfiction reading so I am on the lookout for nonfiction books that will engage my students as well as nonfiction books that I could use for mini lessons.  I found the perfect book last week. My colleague, Brenda Fields, had Grover Cleveland, Again! A Treasury of American Presidents by KenBurns on her ledge when I walked into her classroom the other day and I had to ask about it and check it out! The next week I picked a copy up from Cover to Cover. What a great find!

There is so much to love about this book. When I was in elementary school, my dad bought me a similar book and I spent tons of time digging into it over the years.   When I brought this book into the classroom last week, several kids were anxious to read it. (We keep sticky notes on the popular books so we know who to pass it along to and you can see by this sticky note that there is a long line of kids waiting to get their hands on this one!)



This will definitely be a great book for independent reading. There are so many ways in for kids that it will be accessible to many readers. But I looked more closely at it and realized how perfect it would be for a mini lesson.


One of the things I know my kids need to learn more about is previewing nonfiction.  One of the things we'll do early on in our study is to learn how to preview nonfiction differently than we preview fiction. At the beginning of this idea, we'll look at books and series and authors and think about what, as a reader, we can expect before beginning to read.  This book seems perfect to introduce this topic.  After flipping through it and spending a bit of time with it as a reader, I notice that all of the presidents from George Washington  to Barack Obama are included and they seem to be in order of presidency.  There are numbers in the top left corner of each spread that tell readers the "number" of each president.  Another thing that is consistent is that there is a two page spread on each president. The spread included a box with a photo and basic facts. There is also a multi-paragraph piece that is in nonfiction narrative form telling a bit about the president's life, including his presidency. Then each page has some other interesting information in red boxes. So readers know what to expect on each page.  One thing I liked is that there is variety in the craft of the writing so I can see using some of these as mentors for writing too.


I think this will be a great book to introduce the idea of previewing books that are not meant to be read from cover to cover--those nonfiction books that you can dip in and out of. Knowing what to expect as a nonfiction reader, can help with choosing books and with comprehension.  And as I said before, this book is far more than a book that makes for a good mini lesson. It is one that will engage a variety of readers.

(Our new edition of Still Learning to Read was released in August!  You can order it online at StenhouseYou can follow the conversation using the hashtag #SLTRead or you can join us for a book chat on Facebook that began this week by joining our group here.)


Monday, November 28, 2016

NCTE 2017 Charlotte Huck Awards

I have served on the NCTE Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children for the past three years. It has been an amazing experience. I've learned so much and have met so many great people.  I was never lucky enough to study under Charlotte Huck but her work has had a huge impact on me and my work.

Last year's Charlotte Huck Award committee presented the winning titles at this year's NCTE convention.

The Charlotte Huck Award is a new one and I was part of the first committee. The award's commitment is that it "recognizes fiction that has the potential to transform children's lives by inviting compassion, imagination and wonder." I have LOVED reading with the lens of the Charlotte Huck Award as the award recognizes the power of books for a child. 

I have also LOVED having the book awards announced at the Children's Book Award Luncheon at the NCTE Annual Convention. If you haven't been to this lunch, you are missing out on a fun time!  Previous year's awards are given to authors/illustrators, new awards are announced and there is an author at every table for lunch.  This  year, I got to sit with Mitali Perkins! And Mary Lee was able to sit with Loren Long!  Definitely a fun time!


Loren Long and Mary Lee at the Children's Book Award Luncheon!

This year the 2017 Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction was announced and here are the winners! I would definitely check out all of the books on the list--as it is one of my favorite award lists of the year!

2017 Winner

Ghost by Jason Reynolds



2017 Honor Books
Worm Loves Worm by J. J. Austrian



The Night Gardener by Terry Fan and Eric Fan



Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson


The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill


The Wild Robot by Peter Brown



2017 Recommended Titles

The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner


Luis Paints the World by Terry Farish


Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk


A Bandit's Tale by Deborah Hopkinson



Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge


One Half from the East by Nadia Sashimi




The Princess and the Warrior by Duncan Tonatiuh


For past lists and more information on the Charlotte Huck award, visit the award page on NCTE's website.  You may also be interested in reading The Power of Children's Book Awards and 


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Poetry Friday -- #haikuforhealing


An unsolicited email showed up in my inbox. Rather than spam, it seemed like a message from the universe. Here are the big ideas:

5 Insights for Recording Artists, Performers, and Creatives 

1. Make Art for Social Change

2. Channel Your Pain into Art

3. If You See It, Say It, Sing It, or Sculpt It...

4. Be Visible

5. Collaborate


In a seemingly unrelated email, Carol Wilcox asked if I was planning to write a haiku a day in December again this year. 

My creative spirit, who has been sitting out on the porch with her head between her knees for the last couple of weeks, looked up and nodded. Yes, that seems right, she said. A response to the news of the day, shared in the concise metaphorical form of the haiku. 

#haikuforhealing

Perhaps a month of haiku won't heal the world, but it may begin the process of healing my spirit. Join in if you'd like.

image via Unsplash


waning moon
darker nights ahead
light the lanterns

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016



Carol has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at Carol's Corner.



Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Stray Dogs Who Save Lives



First there was Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. This scruffy dog who smiles shows up in India Opal's life and helps her to make friends and learn to navigate through a life without a mother.




Then last summer, there was Wish by Barbara O'Connor. Wishbone the stray and Howard the surprising neighbor help Charlie deal with her challenging family while she works on making her wish come true.





Last month, when I read Full of Beans by Jennifer Holm, I realized there was a text set coming together -- here's another book with a stray dog in it! Beans saves Termite's life.




The very next book I read after Full of Beans was Liberty, the third (and best, in my opinion) book in Kirby Larson's Dogs of War series. Here we have yet another stray dog who gives the main character purpose and direction. Set in the 1940's in New Orleans, Fish is a white boy with polio who lives with his older sister while his father is away fighting in Europe. His friendship with his neighbor Olympia crosses racial lines and they are unified by their plans to save Liberty. There's even a subplot with a German prisoner of war.


Besides having stray dogs in common, each of these books has a strong sense of place and time, and I just realized as I'm typing this that they are all set in the South!



Monday, November 21, 2016

Guest Post: Olivia Van Ledtje (@thelivbits)



Today, we are thrilled to welcome Olivia Van Ledtje to A Year of Reading as a guest blogger. Liv is a lover of books, sharks, ballet, and all things Disney. You can visit Olivia at her Livbits Vimeo Channel or you can follow her on twitter (@thelivbits). We have learned so much from Olivia in the short time we've known her. She is fabulously brilliant (and fun!) and we think you'll probably want to share this blog post with colleagues and students.
#KeepReading!  #KeepThinking!

Have you ever thought about how powerful it feels to share your story with the world?

I’m Olivia, and I am a 4th grader in Durham, NH. I use Instagram and Twitter and have my own Vimeo channel to share my thinking about books and life with the world. I was inspired to start this from work my mom was doing with teachers called the Selfie Center.

Most people know what a selfie is. Lots of people probably don’t think about what a selfie tells. When you take a selfie and post it on social media, you are asking for feedback. You want people to like it, share it, or comment on it. It’s like the selfie is a chance to start a story and you hope that the story is one that people will like. Usually, no one wants to post a bad selfie.

The Selfie Center is about kids sharing their thinking by making short videos. It makes a single selfie into a video version just like a Harry Potter moving portrait. When I saw all the selfie videos my mom had from other kids, I begged her to let me try it. I saw a first grader’s selfie example and I was inspired. His name was Charlie and he made his selfies into the Charlie show. He would talk about his thinking, his teacher’s lessons, and his questions about his work. I wanted to try doing something like the Charlie show, so I started LivBits.

I use my LivBit videos to share my thinking with the world. They are a little bit of me, Liv and a little bit of my thinking, Bits. The fancy word for what I do is called metacognition. When you can talk about your thinking, you are thinking at a very deep level, and especially when you share your thinking to teach or inspire other people. I want kids to be inspired to read and think more. I love stories, I love thinking, I love talking, and I love sharing! Put that altogether and you have LivBits!

I think kids should be able to share their thinking with bigger audiences than just their classroom. It gives kids more ideas, more feedback, and more inspiration. Social media has helped me create my LivBit digital identity. Everything I post tells a little bit more about who I am and what I believe. Social media helps me tell my story. You can learn a lot about a person by what they post. I hope that my followers see how fun reading, thinking, and sharing can be! One of the best compliments I can get is when I meet a follower face to face and they say, “You are JUST like you are on your LivBits!” It’s really important that who you are online is who you really are in person. Your posts define who you are and are a mirror to the world.

I get my ideas for posting by thinking about my audience. I ask myself questions like: What will people want to learn from this book? What did the author hope to teach me? How can I share this message in an interesting way? Some of the best advice about life can come from characters in stories. And, when I read informational books, I think about what I might be able to teach my audience.

I think it’s really important to share my story, and I get a lot of really awesome feedback when I do. When you post on social media, you can hear from lots of people who can teach you things you didn’t think about. You can also be encouraged to keep going with your message and you can learn from their stories too. I’ve been lucky that my followers believe in the LivBit message.

A big part of my message is that kids can teach us. I use this hashtag a lot because it defines what my LivBit work is all about. Lots of times people think that only grown ups can be the teacher, but I think that you don’t really have to be a grown up to teach others. I can use my social media accounts to share important ideas I have. My followers can teach me, and I can teach them. It’s like a really awesome shared story when you post on social media. Lots of people don’t even think about how you tell a story through your posts.

If you look at people’s social media posts, you can usually see what they value, wish, and dream. If you look close enough you can probably see other information too. If you read their hashtags they tell a story. I always say my hashtags are like “my people.” What I mean is that my hashtags group me with other people on social media. When people comment or share my posts, they become part of my story. It’s really incredible when you see how one post can travel to so many places so quickly all over the world! One of my posts on Twitter was retweeted over 80 times by people in 22 different countries! Some of the countries were not places I had ever even thought about, but after we became part of each other’s story, I wanted to know more about those places.

Hashtags are also like the big ideas in your story. They let people see what your story is all about. They are like the shortened version of what is most important in your post. They give people lots of clues about what to pay attention to in your story. My mom always says that hashtags are the synthesis of your story so that means you have to choose them wisely if you want to share a message.

LivBits is a home project, but I would love it if my school would start to use the Selfie Center so more kids could have the chance to read, think, and share their ideas in a bigger way. Sometimes teachers are too scared to use technology or to have kids on social media, but I think we have to learn how to be safe from doing meaningful work.

LivBits has been the best project I have ever done in my whole entire life! I have teachers all over the world who follow me, give me feedback, and encourage me to do more thinking. My LivBit work started as a chance to grow my thinking, sharing, and reading, but it also grew my heart. I’ve learned how to be a good digital citizen from this work. One of my favorite authors, Peter Reynolds calls it connecting the dots. And, that’s exactly what being a digital citizen is – a connector of dots! You meet so many amazing people and you have the chance to learn and grow together. You connect to their ideas, you retweet, and comment, you share your thinking, and you grow.

Your posts are your story to the world. Make your story one that matters, not just to you, but to others. Connect your dots to places you never dreamed possible. Become a digital beam of light that connects in positive ways to others. Your story matters and deserves to be shared.

Keep reading! Keep thinking! And, keep watching LivBits for more ideas about your books and your world because #kidscanteachus!


Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Blog Vacation!

We are taking a weeklong blog vacation from November 13-November 20..  No, we won't be going to the beach but we will be going somewhere even more exciting. Both of us will be at NCTE's annual convention!  We'll have lots to share when we get back the week of November 20!

We hope to see lots of you at NCTE!

From Pixabay