Monday, February 25, 2008

Yum! MmMm! Que Rico!

I thought that the book, Yum! MmMm! Que Rico!, was great. The illustrations were so bright and exciting to look at and the haikus were entertaining and engaging to read. It’s a great book to read to different age groups because they will appreciate different aspects of the book. A younger audience will love the illustrations and the playful haikus while older students and children will be fascinated with the interesting yet informational facts in the book. This would be an asset to any teachers classroom library!

Mora, Pat. Yum! MmMm! Que Rico! Illus. Rafael Lopez. New York, NY: Lee & Low Books Inc., 2007.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Children's Literature Briefly: Chapter 12

This chapter was exciting for me to read because I think it has a good lesson for teachers. Teaching history is utterly boring without historical fiction novels and/or picture books. This is true for children and adults alike. I am currently taking a Texas History course and the text book is hard to read sometimes because it is just a list of events in chronological order. We do however have supplemental readings assigned to us by our professor. These readings are historical fiction novels that have helped me to connect with this history course. The events that are listed in our textbook take on so much more meaning and importance to me after reading novels about them. I think it is so important for teachers to breathe life into history by having a significant supply of historical fiction references in their classroom library.

Children's Literature Briefly: Chapter 11

I was so excited when I read this chapter and saw that one of my favorite series as an adolescent was mentioned as an example! It mentioned Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s “Alice” series which I loved so much as a middle school student because I felt that I related so much to Alice. The trials and experiences she was going through I felt reflect my life or my life in the near future. This is a great example of what contemporary realistic fiction offers to its readers, relatable characters and settings. I was not surprised to read that this is the most popular genre and the most controversial. Most of the books that I read during middle school and even now are contemporary realistic fiction. Because this genre is about fictitious reality situations and story lines it can become controversial when addressing life’s issues that are more sensitive to the public and society. Sometimes people feel that it is better to keep the harsher realities of life away or hidden from children but in recent years we have seen an increase in taboo topics being presented in children’s contemporary realistic fiction.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Craft Lesson #4: My Many Colored Days

Identifying Emotions

Targeted age Group:
First Grade

Everyone has emotions and everyone feels different emotions every day. I, personally, believe that it is critical for a person’s well being to be able to identify their own emotions. It sounds simple to say, identify your emotions, but it isn’t simple at all. Emotions are complex and to better understand our selves we need an understanding of our emotional self. This is a wonderful lesson for children to learn because they will use emotion recognizing skills the rest of their lives.

How to teach it:
Before reading the book, My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss, I would ask the students what they think the word “emotion” means. I would ask them to tell me some emotions they know. After reading the book acknowledging the emotions that they may have previously mentioned when we come across them I would then go back over the book page by page with the class discussing each emotion. I would ask students to take turns acting out the emotion or telling me what makes them feel that emotion.

Then I would have worksheet with a circle on it with pie shaped sections drawn within the circle already. The children can color or cut and paste different colored construction paper into each of the pie shaped sections. Then write or draw the emotion that each color represents on the colored sections. I would laminate them then have the children attach a laminated arrow with a brad to the circle. To use what they have made they simply point the arrow to the emotion they are feeling. They can keep their “emotion-meter” in or on their desk every day and can use it to identify in a concrete way their feelings and emotions.


Seuss, Dr. My Many Colored Days. Illus. Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. New York: Random House, 1996.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Children's Literature Autobiography

For as long as I can remember reading has been a huge part of my life. Growing up it was always fun for me to read and seemed to come fairly easy to me. As soon as I finished one book, I’d pick up another, then another, then another. Today, when I try to read for fun like I used to I feel guilty because I have so many reading assignments for school to get done. I buy books that interest me all the time regardless of my school induced time restraint and they sit on my shelf by my desk and tempt me. I wish that I could read as often as I did in my childhood.

Early Memories

My earliest memories of reading are of being read to. My parents read to my brother, sister, and me before bed and then I spent hours afterward looking at the books over and over again. My parents had to come turn out the lights and put the books away so that I could go to sleep. Because my parents felt I was ready (and raring to go) they enrolled me in kindergarten a year earlier than most other children.

My enjoyment of books at an early age not only prepared me for school but enabled me to attend early.

Elementary School

In elementary school my favorite part of the day was individual silent reading times and after recess when the teachers read books aloud to the class. In second grade I won the "Bookworm Reading Award" not just for my grade level but for the entire elementary school. Our school had given the students a challenge to read as many books as they could to build a paper bookworm that would cover the walls of the entire school. On construction paper circles the school wrote the title and author of each book read as well as the reader’s name. Each circle was placed in a long line and made up the body of the bookworm. I read the most books and won the contest and I even got a shirt! My parents and teachers were so proud of me and I just thought it was fun to be rewarded for something I loved to do anyway. During late elementary school and early middle school the Goosebumps craze broke out and all of my friends and classmates were engrossed in this scary collection of books. I was not (and still am not) a big fan of reading books that scare me and never got into that series; instead, I enjoyed such fantasy collections as the Enchanted Forest Chronicles written by Patricia C. Wrede and Bruce Coville's Unicorn Chronicles.


My parents were the first to encourage and influence my feelings toward reading. My mother reads regularly and read to me and my siblings constantly when we were children. Out of all of my teachers it is my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Horn, who stands out in my memory of reading the most. She would read aloud to us every day and allowed us to read independently every day. I can also remember her taking us to the library quite often, more so than other teachers did. She took time off for most of the year because she had to have surgery and we were assigned a substitute teacher who didn’t place a high premium on reading. It says something that thought absent for most of my fourth grade year, Mrs. Horn is the teacher who stands out most. I feel it has everything to do with her enthusiasm about reading.

Middle School

In middle school I always did well in reading especially in the Accelerated Reader Program and I always tended to read more books than necessary. I loved reading nonfiction books like The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi and the Alice series by Phillis Reylonds Naylor. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt was also a favorite book of mine that I read over and over. From time to time I read books to my younger sister and brother and even taught my sister how to read before she went to kindergarten!

High School

When I entered high school things began to change for me. I didn't read as much for the same reason I don't read as much now, because of school work and extracurricular activities. Reading, unfortunately, took a back seat to my busy school and social schedule. Books that were mandatory to read in high school rarely appealed to me, probably due to the simple fact that they were required. On occasion, though, I did enjoy books like The Giver by Lois Lowry and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury because they sparked my curiosity about powerful and heavy hypothetical issues. During this time I, every so often, reread some of my favorite books from childhood which reminded me why I enjoyed reading.


Now, in college, I try to read as often as I can. I find that I find the most time to read over school holidays. Recent books that I have read and enjoyed are Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, and Daughter of Troy by Sarah B. Franklin. I love to share books that I enjoy with my friends and family and they share good books that they have found with me. I also love to read books that I know will be or already are out on video. I always read the book first (since they are usually better) and then watch the movie to see how another person has interpreted the novel. Novels have always been and always will be my favorite form of literature. Feeling like you are experiencing another place in another time is one of the things I loved most about fiction as a child and even now.

My experience with reading and literature as a child has shaped how and why I continue to read presently. Reading came easy to me as a child and was easily assessible. Both of these factors enabled me to have the opportunity to enjoy reading as a leisure activity. For my own reading experience I believe that without the experiences and influences of my parents and teachers I may not have fallen in love with reading. When I think about my future career as a teacher I know I have the chance to bring that same love of literature to my students.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Children's Literature Briefly Chapter 10

What I really enjoyed about this chapter was how it brought to attention that adults can sometimes dismiss fantasy because it is not reality. But in fact, fantasy teaches lessons about life in a way that children can understand, relate to, and are interested in. I like the quote at the very end of the chapter said by Lloyd Alexander, "I suppose you might define realism as fantasy pretending to be true; and fantasy as reality pretending to be a dream." A good fantasy novel will give insight into major issues and emotions that we as humans face.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Craft Lesson #3: Minn and Jake


Targeted age Group
First Grade

Friendships are important relationships that we experience throughout our lives.
It’s important for children to learn what makes someone a good friend and how to be a good friend to others

How to teach it
I would read Minn and Jake out loud to the class for a few days until the book was finished and then focus on one passage.
On page 7 I would read the passage that reads:

“There are lots of good ways to choose a friend.
You can choose a friend because you like the same games,
Or because you live on the same street,
Or because your parents work together,
Or because you need to borrow a pen.
Or you can choose a friend because she smiles at you
And it makes you feel good”

Then begin a class discussion bring up questions like:

-How do you pick your friends?
-What are ways we can be good friend to others?
-How do we want our friends to treat us?
-Why are friends important?

Write the students responses on a big piece of paper and hang it in the class room. When there are disputes between students you can refer back to the chart to remind students how they think friends should treat each other.

Wong, Janet S. Minn and Jake. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, NY: Frances Foster Books, 2003

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Children's Literature Briefly--Chp 18

What this chapter says about textbooks is so true! They are full of information and facts which is wonderful but sometimes hard for readers to derive meaning from. The use of trade books to assist in teaching is a great idea. I love the idea about forming book clubs for the classroom and having muliple copies of a few different books available for the children to read and then discuss with other children reading the same text. I personally love to read and discuss great books with other people to get their opinions and take on the stories. The chart on page 235, "Death to the traditional book report", is a valuable tool for the future. I can see myself refering to it for ideas for activities.

Tunnel, Michael O., and James S. Jacobs. Children's Literature, Briefly. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc., 2008.