How To Read a Story
Author: Kate Messner; Illustrator: Mark Siegel
Published: May 5, 2015 by Chronicle

A Guest Review by Marisela Valencia

GoodReads Summary: Kate Messner and Mark Siegel’s How to Read a Story is a great picture book for young students to learn how to become excellent readers. In just ten easy steps, students learn about the reading process, and the necessary steps to reading a book. The book starts off with Step 1: “Find a Story” and shows us an illustration of a young boy with blond hair, blue jeans, and bare feet surrounded by books. The young boy continues to go through the steps, picking a book off the shelf, finding a good reading buddy, a cozy place to read, and more. Within these steps we see creative insight into teaching readers and students how to read aloud, make predictions, and even read with expression. This “how to” book is great way to deepen any readers’ love for reading.

Review: Not all reading processes look the same, but this book provides steps to becoming a reader in such a fun and interesting way! Following along with the young boy and the book he chooses in the story, our young readers learn the steps that they can take when reading their own books. The bright and colorful fonts and illustrations in How to Read a Story also draw in readers and provide more detail about the steps. Any student would be motivated to keep reading with these illustrations. Another amazing thing about this book is that the author demonstrates to readers that it is okay to go back and pick a new book if you and your reading buddy do not agree. She also mentions that it is okay to go back and read the book again if you really enjoyed it! I think it is so important for readers to know that they are not stuck with the first book they choose and also that they are more than welcome to read the book again if they enjoyed it!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Great mentor text for students learning to create their own “how to” books and learning about sequencing. Also a great way to initiate discussion about choosing the right book, reading with expression, making predictions, and decoding.

Discussion Questions: What kind of reading buddy would you choose? Would they like the same things as you?; What are some good places to read? What are some not so good places to read (and why?); Did you learn any new things about being a reader from this book? Do you follow any of these steps already?; If you were writing your own “how to”, what would be some important things to include?

Flagged Passage: 

Read This If You Loved: Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon; A Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen and Mike Lowery; This is Not a Picture Book by Sergio Ruzzier; Where Are My Books? by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Recommended For:

Thank you, Marisela!


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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

A couple of weeks ago at ALA, my friend Michele Knott of Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook, was kind enough to show me some of her favorite nonfiction picture book biographies published in 2017, and I am so happy to share them with you all.

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist
Author and Illustrator: Cynthia Levinson
Published January 17th, 2017 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Summary: Meet the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963, in this moving picture book that proves you’re never too little to make a difference.

Nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks intended to go places and do things like anybody else.

So when she heard grown-ups talk about wiping out Birmingham’s segregation laws, she spoke up. As she listened to the preacher’s words, smooth as glass, she sat up tall. And when she heard the plan—picket those white stores! March to protest those unfair laws! Fill the jails!—she stepped right up and said, I’ll do it! She was going to j-a-a-il!

Audrey Faye Hendricks was confident and bold and brave as can be, and hers is the remarkable and inspiring story of one child’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.

My Thoughts: This book was a perfect picture book companion while I was reading the March trilogy by John Lewis, and reading it and the trilogy made me realize I need to update my Civil Rights text set with all of the amazing titles I’ve read recently, including this one. Audrey Faye Hendricks’s story is a story of a young girl that was so gutsy and stood up for what she believed in– equality because she wanted to be able to do whatever she put her mind to when she grew up. This story also gave another angle to the Civil Rights Movement showing the inclusiveness of all aspects of the Black community in the fight for equal rights.

Balderdash!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books
Author and Illustrator: Michelle Markel
Published April 4th, 2017 by Chronicle Books

Summary: A picture book biography about John Newbery pioneering author and publisher for whom the prestigious Newbery medal is named and the revolution in children s books that he led This rollicking and fascinating picture book biography chronicles the life of the first pioneer of children s books John Newbery himself While most children s books in the 18th century contained lessons and rules John Newbery imagined them overflowing with entertaining stories science and games. He believed that every book should be made for the reader’s enjoyment Newbery for whom the prestigious Newbery Medal is named became a celebrated author and publisher changing the world of children’s books forever This book about his life and legacy is as full of energy and delight as any young reader could wish.

My Thoughts: This was the perfect book for me to read after attending ALA and the Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder banquet because, although I knew Newbery was a children’s book publisher, I didn’t know much at all about him or his life. Markel’s biography of him is a perfect introduction! Newbery knew that children needed books that were made specifically for them, a philosophy that we all know is correct and true! I loved how Newbery fought the norms of society and put his money where his mouth is and opened a children’s bookstore which led to the world of children’s books we have today! No wonder the Newbery was named after him!

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist
Author: Jess Keating
Illustrator: Marta Álvarez Miguéns
Published June 6th, 2017 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Summary: At 9 years old, Eugenie Clark developed an unexpected passion for sharks after a visit to the Battery Park Aquarium in New York City. At the time, sharks were seen as mindless killing machines, but Eugenie knew better and set out to prove it. Despite many obstacles in her path, Eugenie was able to study the creatures she loved so much. From her many discoveries to the shark-related myths she dispelled, Eugenie’s wide scientific contributions led to the well-earned nickname “Shark Lady.”

My Thoughts: I had not heard of Eugenia Clark until I read Heather Lang’s Swimming with Sharks and now with Shark Lady we have a second amazing biography about her! I am so glad that she is getting the attention that her amazing story and career deserves! I love that her story shows that inquiry from a young age can lead to a successful and fulfilling career. It also teaches us that nature is something we need to keep questioning and learning from because assumptions are how beautiful things in nature get misunderstood.

All Books Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall closereadinganalysisbuttonsmall 


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Eltop ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.

 Today’s Topic: Ten Characters We Would Be Friends With

From Varun J. and Yassine M., 6th Grade


1. Eli from Masterminds by Gordon Korman

Because both of us are computer nerds

2. Dog Man from Dog Man by Dav Pilkey

Because I love dogs.

3. Captain Underpants from Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

He would give me many laughs.

4. Alex Rider from Alex Rider by Anthony Horowitz

I would be interested in his work and volunteer for MI6 but not in the dangerous missions.

5. Cat in the Hat from The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

We would have a good time in his flying machine and playing a lot of jokes.


1. Greg from Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Because he is funny.

2. Oliver from Poptropica by 

Because he’s adventurous.

3. Freak from Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick

Because he’s smart.

4. Dog Man from Dog Man by Dav Pilkey

Because he’s a hero.

5. HiLo from HiLo by Judd Winick

Because he has superpowers.

 Today’s Topic: Ten Characters We Would Be Friends With

From Tyler S. and Pedro G., 8th Grade


1. HiLo from Hilo by Judd Winick

HiLo seems like a cool friend, and I like going on adventures, and HiLo goes to random places a lot.

2. Teenboat from Teenboat by Dave Roman

I would like to be Teenboat’s friend because we could go anywhere we wanted to over sea and lust chill. He seems like a cool person.

3. Bird from Bird and Squirrel by James Burks

Bird is very funny and interesting, so I would love to be his friend. He also is adventurous yet cautious.

4. Nate from Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce

Nate does a lot of cool stuff, and it must be fun and interesting to be his friend.

5. Gator from Gabby and Gator by James Burks

Gator seems chill, and I love how he protects Gabby from bullies. He could help our school (or any school) with bullying.


1. Captain Underpants from Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

Because he has superpowers and could fly me around town.

2. Mal from Mal & Chad by 

Mal could invent cool things for me and do my homework. (And I could play fetch with Chad.)

3. Dog Man from Dog Man by Dav Pilkey

Dog Man could protect me and play with me, and we could fight crime together.

4. Greg Heffley from Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Greg and I could play video games together, and we could go to school and beat the bullies.

5. Sukari from Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby 

Sukari and I could climb trees together and do everything together and have fun.


Thank you, Yassine, Varun, Tyler, and Pedro!



IMWAYR 2015 logo

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journeys and now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover the next “must-read” book!

Kellee and Jen, of Teach Mentor Texts, decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too.

We encourage everyone who participates to support the blogging community by visiting at least three of the other book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.


Last Week’s Posts

**Click on any picture/link to view the post**


Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Authors from Diego, 6th Grade

Wednesday: March Trilogy by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin

Thursday: Guest Review: Snow White by Matt Phelan

Friday: Review and Giveaway!: Splatypus by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

Sunday: Author Guest Post!: “How Do You Engage Restless Fourth Graders During the Last Weeks of School? With a Good Book, Of Course!” by Miriam Spitzer Franklin, Author of Call Me Sunflower


 Last Week’s Journeys


Since we are in the second half of summer, it is family time in the Moye household! I’m taking a 2 week blog vacation, so I will be back with you all next week 🙂


I am moving across the country to Colorado to start my new job at Colorado State University! Yahoo! I am sorry that I will be gone for the next few weeks because internet access (and finding my computer) will likely be tricky. I’ll see you all in August!


Upcoming Week’s Posts


Tuesday: Twenty Characters We Would Be Friends With from Varun & Yassine, 6th Grade, and Tyler & Pedro, 8th Grade

Wednesday: 2017 Nonfiction Picture Book Biographies: The Youngest Marcher by Cynthia Levinson, Balderdash! by Michelle Markel, and Shark Lady by Jess Keating

Thursday: Guest Review: How to Read a Story by Kate Messner

Friday: A Bike Like Sergio’s by Maribeth Boelts

 So, what are you reading?

Link up below and go check out what everyone else is reading. Please support other bloggers by viewing and commenting on at least 3 other blogs. If you tweet about your Monday post, tag the tweet with #IMWAYR!

 Signature andRickiSig

 “How Do You Engage Restless Fourth Graders During the Last Weeks of School? With a Good Book, Of Course!”

This spring I was asked to fill in for a fourth grade teacher on maternity leave. I was excited to get back in the classroom, though a little nervous about taking over during those last hazy crazy days when students have already checked out and are dreaming of spending their homework-free vacation at the swimming pool or doing some other activity that doesn’t involve sitting still and listening to the teacher.

When I stepped in during April, most of the weeks were full of to-do lists with structured plans already in place. But once the end-of-year testing was completed, I was left with three weeks to fill. I was told I should continue the math lessons according to the manual, and should do some project-based learning to cover the science unit on matter.

But what was the best use of time during the language arts block? The director said I didn’t need to continue with vocabulary or spelling units. We had finished Junior Great Books, and there wasn’t a reading workshop set in place. So how was I going to keep my restless students engaged and involved for the last three weeks of school? The answer was simple: by reading an amazing book.

Luckily, I found a worn-out set of Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, one of my all-time favorites and a novel I had taught to sixth graders for many years. Since the students in my class were reading above grade level and this was a Jewish Day School, I felt the difficulty and content would be appropriate for fourth grade.

I introduced the book in the usual way: studying the cover, giving some author background, finding out what students knew about the Holocaust, doing a quick map study. The real fun began when I told the class we were going to hold Reader’s Theater each day to read and act out the chapters together. I set up some ground rules:

1) You may turn down a part if you don’t want it

2) We will rotate the parts each day

3) If you participate, you must try your best to read loudly and with expression

4) You should act out any motions described by the narrator

5) Anyone who does not take his/her part seriously will be replaced by another student for the day

Each day, I made a list of props that would be helpful for the next day’s reading and asked for volunteers to bring them in. Students began bringing in other props that they thought of as well. I used name cards to randomly draw parts until all students had been chosen. Sometimes I swapped out partway through a chapter, depending on the length.

I made up Rule #1 since some students did not want roles for the opposite gender, and I wanted to allow them the choice of just following along if they did not want to be onstage. (This would also be helpful if you have a classroom of varied reading skills so that everyone has the option of participating.) I began by reading the part of Narrator but about halfway through the book I chose others to read the part.

I included Rule #5 because I wanted the students to understand and respect the seriousness of the story. I had to give a few warnings and remind students of their goals, but I only had to replace a student once for talking in a silly voice during a serious scene. This was a learning experience for everyone as it led to journal responses and a discussion about what it would feel like if you were woken in the middle of the night by Nazi soldiers looking for your best friend.

We covered two chapters each day, one with Reader’s Theater and one read silently. Students kept journals where they wrote predictions along with other responses each day. Sometimes they responded to specific prompts; sometimes they wrote from the point of view of a character; sometimes they picked out the best descriptions and drew pictures to match. We started each day with a swapping of journals and a brief discussion in small groups. We finished the book in a little over two weeks, leaving the last week for final activities that included group murals, A to Z picture books, character interviews, and quiz bowls.

During the last few weeks of school, there were unexpected interruptions: extra practices for the end-of-year musical performance, an invitation to watch another class’s PBL presentations, a guest speaker. We may not have gotten to journal entries each day, but through it all, we never skipped the day’s reading. Students came in talking about the book in the morning, wanting to play with the props and act out parts.

No one can deny that it’s hard to hold a student’s attention during those hot last days of school when fourth graders are already looking at themselves as fifth graders and students are ready to escape the four walls of the classroom and run barefoot through the grass, the sun beating down on their shoulders.

But as I discovered when I taught fourth grade this year: if there was one time where I captured the attention of all of my students, it was during reading time. So if you want to beat the I’m-ready-for-summer-vacation blues, find a good book and read it from start to finish during the last weeks of school. Lois Lowry wove a spell over my students and made them forget that school was almost out. For an hour each day, we were transported to a different time and place where the challenges the characters faced became challenges of our own. This is the power of the well-chosen word; this is the magic of books.

About the Book:

Sunny Beringer hates her first name—her real first name—Sunflower. And she hates that her mom has suddenly left behind her dad, Scott, and uprooted their family miles away from New Jersey to North Carolina just so she can pursue some fancy degree. Sunny has to live with a grandmother she barely knows, and she’s had to leave her beloved cat and all her friends behind. And no one else seems to think anything is wrong.

So she creates “Sunny Beringer’s Super-Stupendous Plan to Get My Parents Back Together”—a list of sure-fire ways to make her mom and Scott fall madly in love again, including:

Send Mom flowers from a “Secret Admirer” to make Scott jealous and make him regret letting them move so far away.
Make a playlist of Scott’s favorite love songs—the mushier the better—and make sure it’s always playing in the car.
Ask them about the good old days when they first fell in love.

But while working on a photo album guaranteed to make Mom change her mind and rush them right back home, Sunny discovers a photo—one that changes everything.

Sunny’s family, the people she thought she could trust most in the world, have been keeping an enormous secret from her. And she’ll have to reconcile her family’s past and present, or she’ll lose everything about their future.

Review from Atlanta Journal Constitution: “Much as she did in her 2015 debut “Extraordinary,” North Carolina author Franklin delivers a moving and realistic story (with subplots, such as one that involves protesting the luxury fur business). “Sunflower” shines with emotion, convincing dialogue and relatable characters.”

About the Author:

Miriam Spitzer Franklin has taught elementary and middle school students for over 20 years in public, private, and homeschool settings. She is passionate about reading, writing, figure skating, and animal rights and environmental causes. She has coached her daughter’s Odyssey of the Mind team for the past five years and loves to see creativity in action! Her debut novel, EXTRAORDINARY, was published by Skypony Press in May 2015 and her second middle grade novel, CALL ME SUNFLOWER, was published by Skypony in May 2017.

Thank you to Miriam for this wonderful post!


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Author: Sudipta bardhan-Quallen
Illustrator: Jacki Urbanovic
Published April 4th, 2017 by Two Lions

Summary: Lonely Platypus wants to play, but where should he go? Should he jump with the kangaroos? Leap with the possums? Fly with the bats? Every time he tries to find out—skipping, hopping, dipping, dropping—he winds up going splat instead. Can a SPLATypus find a place where he belongs? This rhyming, rollicking story is perfect for reading aloud.

Review: Everyone is searching for their place in the world. Starting at a very young age, we want to be accepted and know that we belong. Kids will love the platypus story because it is about him figuring it out; however, even though the message is quite serious and will lead to important talks, it leads to this topic in a very fun and humorous way. The platypus’s adventure is just so silly that readers will be mesmerized by it and the colorful illustrations! This story is a win-win for teachers, parents, and kids!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The most important way this book will fit into most classrooms is through read aloud and the classroom library. Like I shared above, it really does lead to conversations about identity and fitting in but does so in a non-preachy way. Additionally, the text could be used as a mentor text for writing a narrative animal story in a similar style. Maybe OOPSephant or KangaNO or GOrilla filled with onomatopoeias and rhyming.

Discussion Questions: When is a time you haven’t felt like you fit in? What did you do to make your situation better?: What words in the story rhymed?; What onomatopoeias did the author use in the text? Why do you think they were included?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Loved: Leaping Lemmings by John BriggsHoot and Honk Just Can’t Sleep by Leslie HelakoskiThe Knowing Book by Rebecca Kai DotlichA Big Surprise for Little Card by Charise Mericle HarperThunder Boy Jr. by Sherman AlexieAfter the Fall by Dan Santat, Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney, Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima

Recommended For:



a Rafflecopter giveaway

**Thank you to Al at Two Lions for providing a copy for review and giveaway!**

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Snow White: A Graphic Novel
Author: Matt Phelan
Published: September 21, 2016 by Candlewick

A Guest Review by Emily Baseler

GoodReads Summary: Award-winning graphic novelist Matt Phelan delivers a darkly stylized noir Snow White set against the backdrop of Depression-era Manhattan.

The scene: New York City, 1928. The dazzling lights cast shadows that grow ever darker as the glitzy prosperity of the Roaring Twenties screeches to a halt. Enter a cast of familiar characters: a young girl, Samantha White, returning after being sent away by her cruel stepmother, the Queen of the Follies, years earlier; her father, the King of Wall Street, who survives the stock market crash only to suffer a strange and sudden death; seven street urchins, brave protectors for a girl as pure as snow; and a mysterious stock ticker that holds the stepmother in its thrall, churning out ticker tape imprinted with the wicked words “Another . . . More Beautiful . . . KILL.” In a moody, cinematic new telling of a beloved fairy tale, extraordinary graphic novelist Matt Phelan captures the essence of classic film noir on the page—and draws a striking distinction between good and evil.

Review: Matt Phelan reinvented the “happily ever after” with this retelling. I identify as a Disney Classic enthusiast but I was pleasantly surprised with the ending. The illustrations are gorgeous with distinct intentionality. More mature themes such as death, assassination, murder were evaluated within a historical context to create an incredible murder mystery story at the level of a middle grade reader.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This would be an excellent text to hand a more reluctant reader. There is limited text the reader is asked to interpret the illustrations and structure. In literature groups, students could potentially discuss the use of metaphor, oenomania, author/illustrator’s choice, and compare/ contrast the original fairytale with the retelling. This is also a text I would recommend to a student who has shown an interest in the graphic novel genre to read independently.

Discussion Questions: Why do you think the author choose to use red in selected illustrations? How did this choice influence you as a reader?; Why do you think the author choose to break apart the chapters this way?; Even though there were few words, how did you interpret the mood, tone, and voice of characters?; Did you find yourself needing to interpret the illustrations to understand the plot? What was that experience like for you as a reader?; How is this retelling of the classic fairy tale of “Snow White” different than the original? What did you notice is similar?

Flagged Passage: “My name is Snow White, but my mother didn’t call be that to be funny. She would say that the snow covers everything and makes the entire world beautiful” (Ch. 10)

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Loved: Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff, Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk by Liesl Shurtliff, Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff

Recommended For:

Thank you, Emily!


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