Picture books are delightful. I can’t get enough of them (which proves that there is no age limit for enjoying picture books). Here are some great non-fiction titles that are all available on SORA. I encourage you to read them aloud to your students. You never know what conversations might be sparked, and what insights might be found.
What I was reading:
Be a Good Ancestor by Leona Prince and Gabrielle Prince; illustrated by Carla Joseph
“Rooted in Indigenous teachings, this stunning picture book encourages readers of all ages to consider the ways in which they live in connection to the world around them and to think deeply about their behaviors.” (Goodreads)
Available on SORA
What Moves I Notice the Author Making:
- On each two page spread, the text follows the same format.
- The first line is always “Be a good Ancestor with ________”
- Each line begins with the word that ended the previous line.
- Each line goes from individual, small actions to large systemic change.
- The illustrations are symbolic of the text. (And completely stunning).
Here is an example from the text:
Be a good Ancestor with your neighbours
Neighbours become friends
Friends become communities
Communities become nations
Nations become allies
Possibilities for Writers:
- Discuss/think about how small things can make a big impact in the world.
- Write poems following the format “Be a good Ancestor with…, _______ become ______…
- Write with the intention of the last word of a line/sentence being the first word of the line/sentence to show connectivity.
- Create illustrations.
- Share poems with another class/grade.
What I was Reading: The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin
“In a future world racked by violence and environmental catastrophes, George Orr wakes up one day to discover that his dreams have the ability to alter reality. He seeks help from Dr. William Haber, a psychiatrist who immediately grasps the power George wields. Soon George must preserve reality itself as Dr. Haber becomes adept at manipulating George’s dreams for his own purposes.
The Lathe of Heaven is an eerily prescient novel from award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin that masterfully addresses the dangers of power and humanity’s self-destructiveness, questioning the nature of reality itself. It is a classic of the science fiction genre.” – https://www.ursulakleguin.com/the-lathe-of-heaven
The novel starts with the following three paragraphs:
Current-borne, wave-flung, tugged hugely by the whole might of ocean, the jellyfish drifts in the tidal abyss. The light shines through it, and the dark enters it. Borne, flung, tugged from anywhere to anywhere, for in the deep sea there is no compass but nearer and farther, higher and lower, the jellyfish hangs and sways; pulses move slight and quick within it, as the vast diurnal pulses beat in the moon-driven sea. Hanging, swaying, pulsing, the most vulnerable and insubstantial creature, it has for its defense the violence and power of the whole ocean, to which it has entrusted its being, its going, and its will.
But here rise the stubborn continents. The shelves of gravel and the cliffs of rock break from water baldly into air, that dry, terrible outer space of radiance and instability, where there is no support for life. And now, now the currents mislead and the waves betray, breaking their endless circle, to leap up in loud foam against rock and air, breaking…
What will the creature made all of sea-drift do on the dry sand of daylight; what will the mind do, each morning, waking?
What Moves I Notice the Author Making:
- The use of metaphor (the jellyfish) to set up the premise of the novel. I have to admit that this was a bit jarring when I read on and realized that the book was about a dystopian future society. However, I kept thinking of the jellyfish as I was reading – so it was a very effective lead.
- The use of hyphens – current-borne, wave-flung (see our conventions inquiry on compound modifiers for more mentor texts to study)
- The vocabulary in these paragraphs could be studied for days. (diurnal, radiance, insubstantial, for example)
- Repetition – the use of borne, flung, tugged in both the first and second sentences. The use of hang, sway, pulse in two sentences as well. And the repetition happens in the sentence immediately following, not later on.
- The first paragraph is describing the jellyfish, the second paragraph is describing the obstacles and the third is questioning if the jellyfish will be able to cope with such change.
- The second sentence in the first paragraph has a semi-colon. It is a wonderful sentence to look at carefully.
- The last paragraph is one sentence, in the form of a question. It includes a semi-colon that joins two sentences.
- The sentence lengths are varied.
- The second paragraph ends with an ellipse.
Possibilities for Writers:
- Try the repetition of the words from one sentence to the next.
- Try using the some of the vocabulary.
- Try writing with semicolons, using the sentences in the first and last paragraphs as mentors.
- Try to vary sentence lengths.
- Try to use ellipses.
Picture books are delightful. I can’t get enough of them (which proves that there is no age limit for enjoying picture books). Once a month, during the school year, I am going to pull together some picture books available on SORA that are just a delight to read. I encourage you to share them with your students. You never know what conversations might be sparked, and what insights might be found.
National Newspaper Week Every year, during the first full week of October, newspapers across North America celebrate National Newspaper Week to recognize the people who work tirelessly to bring the news to their communities. Newspaper journalism – both local and national – is critically important, especially in the reality in which we live. Now, more than ever, newspapers matter.
Media Literacy Week is an annual event promoting digital media literacy across Canada, taking place each October. Schools, libraries, museums and community groups organize events and activities throughout the week.
October 3-November 14
The premise is simple; we pick a book to read aloud to our students during a set 6-week period and during that time we try to make as many global connections as possible. Each teacher decides how much time they would like to dedicate and how involved they would like to be.
OCTOBER 26 – 7:30-8:30 PM ADT
Kelly Fritsch & Anne McGuire authors of We Move Together. We Move Together follows a mixed-ability group of kids as they creatively negotiate everyday barriers and find joy and connection in disability culture and community. A kinship text for families, schools, and libraries to facilitate conversations about disability, accessibility, social justice, and community building. This event is free to the public. Register for tickets
For more events, please check out our Literacy Events Calendar.
Photo essays are a powerful form of multimodal writing. I fell in love with them when I was introduced to James Mollison and his incredibly important books: “Where Children Sleep” and “Where Children Play”. These books show, through pictures and words, the inequities of children’s lived experiences around the globe.
When I show these photo essays to teachers and students, they are equally struck by how profound a form of writing it can be. This usually leads to students wanting to write their own photo essays.
So, together as a class, we co-constructed “What makes a quality photo essay?”. We read lots of examples – both in book form and digitally – and answered the following questions:
What do you notice about the photo essay?
How would you define “Photo Essay”?
What makes a quality photo essay?
Some of the books we read were:
Where Children Sleep by James Mollison
James and Other Apes by James Mollison
Before Their Time: The World of Child Labour by David L. Parker
Earth Then and Now: Amazing Images of a Changing World by Fred Pearce
We also looked at digital photo essays that I compiled on a SWAY so the students could view them on their own devices.
Since students will be creating digital photo essays, it’s important that you show them different online tools that they can use. Canva, SWAY, Powerpoint, and Piktochart were the ones we explored.
I find that the photo essays students create tell a lot about themselves and how they view the world. Spending some time on personal photo essays at the beginning of the school year would be a great way to explore identity.
Here are some literacy events taking place in September 2022.
International Literacy Day “Since 1967, International Literacy Day (ILD) celebrations have taken place annually around the world to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights, and to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society. Despite progress made, literacy challenges persist with at least 773 million young people and adults lacking basic literacy skills today.”
September 15th – ish
International Dot Day “Imagine the power and potential of millions of people around the world connecting, collaborating, creating and celebrating all that creativity inspires and invites. I hope you will join the growing global community of creativity champions using their talents, gifts and energy to move the world to a better place.”
Banned Books Week “Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. The theme of this year’s event is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.”
Check out these events, and more, on our ASD-W Margin Notes Literacy K-12 SharePoint.
There are just some authors who are an immediate “yes”. Tae Keller has become one of those authors for me, ever since reading her Newbery Medal winning novel “When You Trap a Tiger“. So, when I found out that she had a new middle grade novel coming out on April 26th, I pre-ordered it. And, let me tell you, it does not disappoint.
Mallory, the narrator of the story, is so real and raw. I love how we are privy to all of her thoughts, insecurities, and feelings. She is a complicated character and is not simply “good or bad”. The shame and guilt she feels over her actions and those of her friends is written with sensitivity, and I certainly felt empathy for her- despite the fact that as a parent and a teacher I wanted to tell her to give her head a shake many times.
This is a story of bullying, aliens (yes, I said “aliens”), being the “new kid”, standing up for what is right, and speaking up for others EVEN when it makes you stick out. This novel would be an amazing read aloud for a grade 6 or 7 class.
I highly recommend you add this to your TBR stack of summer reads. And if you haven’t read “When you Trap a Tiger”, add that one too!
What I was reading:
Ain’t Burned All The Bright by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin.
From the book blurb: “Jason Reynolds, using three longgggggg sentences, and Jason Griffin, using three hundred pages of pocket-size moleskine, hav mind-melded this fierce-vulnerable-brilliant-terrifying-whatiswrongwithhumans-hopefilled-hopeful-tender-heartbreaking-heartmaking-manifesto on what it means not to be able to breath, and how the people and things at your fingertips are actually the oxygen you need.”
What moves I noticed the writer/illustrator use:
- The text and the artwork are equally prominent
- The author and the illustrator work together to create the text (true collaboration)
- All the art is created in a Moleskine notebook
- Some of the words are crossed out but kept visible
- On a few pages, blackout poetry is used
- The text on each page appears to be cut out of a larger page and taped down in the Moleskin
- Many art media are used – ink, pencil, paint, chalk, collage, stencils, etc.
- The text is an example of a prose poem
- The artist uses nature themes as a metaphor for the pandemic
- The text is an example of a remix. Learn more about remixes from educator Paul W. Hankins here.
Possibilities for Writers:
- Try your hand at writing prose poetry and then play around with cutting it up, changing it, adding to it – in other words- remix it.
- This book is a true collaboration. Try collaborating with another person to create a text together using a poem and art. This could be your poem, or someone else’s.
- Create a blackout poem from a old book, newspaper or magazine
Here is a sample:
You can also make blackout poems using a Blackout Poetry Maker.
Most of all, have fun!
Poem In Your Pocket Day (PYID) is celebrated every year during National Poetry Month.
From the League of Poets website:
“On PIYP Day, select a poem, carry it with you, and share it with others at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, coffee shops, street corners, and on social media using the hashtag #PocketPoem.”
I was thinking about all the digital options available for accessing poetry and how our phones can fit in our pockets and then it occured to me that selecting a poem on a social media platform and then sharing said poem on your socials is literally “a poem in your pocket”.
Here are some fantastic sources for poetry:
Button Poetry is very active on all social media platforms, including TikTok and Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. If you click the link above and then scroll down to the bottom of the page, you can find all the links. They share amazing spoken word poetry on TikTok.
Publishers of the magazine POETRY. They are active on instagram, and have a podcast called “Audio Poem of the Day”.
Brett is a high school ELA teacher, and each year in March he tweets and blogs about poetry – leading up to Poetry Month. You can find this year’s tweets here.
Poets.org is active on Twitter and has a poem-a-day section on their website. They tweet using the hashtag #poemaday
On their website, you will find selections of poems for Poem-in-your-Pocket Day for the past 6 years.
With all these options, I can guarantee that your students will not only find a poem that speaks to them, but will be excited to share that poem to the world. And, don’t forget to use the hashtag #pocketpoem!