Friday, July 2, 2010

Great Books ~ Love the Possibilities!

We did forge the rain soaked streets of Austin to BookPeople yesterday...and came away with a few gems!

First off, Sam selected a book called "Dragonbreath" by Ursula Vernon. It is a combination graphic novel (comic style) and chapter book, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well written it was. It will expose your mid second/third grade reader (or really good first grade reader) to some new and unusual ways of saying things. By that I mean some earlier readers are very simplistic (i.e. Magic Tree House, etc.) and it bores readers. This is interesting, and the character, a dragon, is both humorous and relates to kids. I have enjoyed the first two chapters immensely.

Secondly, I wanted to highlight a book I picked up for myself. It is called "Elephant elephant - A Book of Opposites" by Pittau and Gervais. It is a picture book, and is simply an elephant on each page, drawn differently to illustrate the adjective it has below it. For example, the elephant becomes feathered, and curvy, and furry...short, tall...even solid and liquid. IT IS GENIUS!

Here's how I am going to use it several ways in my classroom. First, I will use it to broaden their exposure and understanding of adjectives. They will create their own "elephant book" using adjectives we brainstorm and find on a "hunt" through our books.

Next I will take it another step. We will write a sentence together - Rachel walked to the store. Then I will have them change the sentence a bunch of ways...make Rachel sad...Rachel slowly made her way to the store, head hung low. Now make the setting rainy -- Clutching her umbrella tightly, Rachel splashed through the puddles on her way to the store. See? It makes them change perspective, and think of ways to describe things differently.


Because kids tend to see things as black and white. I want them to see the possibilities that are out there. It will stretch them in their writing, but it will also make them think "outside the box." That is a good skill to have when you are reading. What could the character do? Why? Why did the author write that sentence that way? What are they trying to convey to me as a reader?

It is amazing how much can come out of a short, what appears as simple, picture book.

Happy Friday - be safe if you are travelling for the Fourth!

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