Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ten Thousand Thanks!

Now that the dots have settled on another wildly successful Dot Day, I want to extend some thanks to some very important people. Be sure to read to the end. I'm a little nervous that I've missed people in this list, so I may go back and add some.

Peter H. Reynolds - There would be no day without the perfect book. Your words and your art have captivated the world. When I suggested we "have a day to let kids make dots and be creative," you had the brilliance to call it "International" and made a logo. Your belief in my dream made all the difference. Thank you.

Paul A Reynolds - Every year, you are there behind the scenes, connecting people, making things happen, watching the totals, and dreaming of a more creative future. Thank you.

Bill Norris - In 2011 you had the idea to keep track of who was celebrating. It was truly a brilliant suggestion because the power of numbers both helps people feel connected and also to keep all of us reaching to inspire more and more kids. You are also behind the scenes working and making things happen. Thank you

Julie Gribble and KidLitTV team- When you jumped on board, you rocked the ship!! You have made such an amazing groundswell of love and support happen. Last year with the Ready, Set, Draw, and the Storymakers and this year with an amazing Livestream. You constantly support this amazing mission. Thank you for allowing me to write a monthly-ish column where I can share ways to keep being creative. Apple autocorrect keeps changing Livestream to LIFEstream and, this year it's not wrong. You brought new life. Thank you to the entire team.

Shannon M. Miller,  Andy Plemmons, and Matthew Winner Before I even dreamed of how making connections would inspire classrooms to participate, you were at work making it all happen. I never have to wonder if you will create a new doc to share, it happens before I can even think of it. I will be forever grateful to all of you for your work. Thank you.

Quivervision - One of our Ambassadors contacted QuiverVision (then ColAr) and asked if they'd participate in Dot Day and before we knew it, there was a template and dozens of schools jumping on board. Having a new way to look at dots has been wonderful. Thank you! Thank you also for this amazing dot that you made out of submissions to Quivervision! WOW, I am blown away.


FableVision Learning - Andrea, Patrick, Patrick M, and Adrienne and all those that went before you have been instrumental in making Dot Day grow. From creating awesome blog posts and Maker Studio dots, to making sure that people are able to go to the website and find what they need, you all rock. Thank you!

Blue Bunny Books - Margie-the-Great, Melissa, and Diana worked wonders this year to get t-shirts, stickers, and books out to people celebrating. You will forever be my favorite bookstore. Thank you!

Candlewick Press - Thank you for supporting Dot Day by providing materials for celebrations and awesome book guides and ideas. Anne and company, you rock! Thank you!

DoInk - New this year! There were some really ingenious ways for teachers and kids to GreenScreen with their dots. Thank you for tweeting, sharing, and making a product that helps kids be creative.

Buncee encouraged many people to celebrate this year and for many years. This was, I think, the first year I've seen FlipGrid celebrations and they have been amazing and heartwarming. Thank you.

Faber-Castell - Thank you for being the sponsor of this year's KidLitTV Lifestream! That LiveStream was amazing and it happened through your generosity. Thank you also for creating stellar art supplies that help everyone be more creative.

Holly McGhee and Pippin Properties- To the super agent who first helped bring "The Dot" to the world, and a constant supporter of creativity, Peter, and me. Your love and kindness is truly appreciated.

The Celebridots - For those who don't know the story, in 2011 on Dot Day, I received an email from one of my favorite authors, Sharon Creech, and it inspired me to seek dots from other famous people to inspire kids to be creative. There are currently 260 dots from a huge variety of authors/illustrators/TV personalities which annually inspire kids. I never dreamed when we started the collection that people would use so many different mediums to create, and that has made the gallery an incredible source of inspiration. Thank you for taking time away from your own work to make your mark on kids.

North Tama School and Teachers - After celebrating for a few years in three of my classrooms, I asked if we could involve the entire elementary and the answer was yes. The teachers went so far above and beyond to dot the school, it was amazing. The next year, the entire secondary joined. What a testament to creativity and positivity. Many teachers have celebrated every year and I am always amazed by their creativity. Thank you.

My students former and present - In the past, people have asked me how I get older kids to participate and my answer is always, "put out art supplies." There is no trick. I think I've been blessed with amazing students who appreciate the time to be creative. In addition, many have gone on to celebrate in their own classrooms or, in the case of Stefanie Kline, in a daycare. I love my students and former students, they keep me going. Thank you for believing in this dream.

Every administrator who saw the importance of celebrating creativity and allowed or advocated for teachers and kids. I met a principal once who scowled at me when asked if her school participated. She said "if I take any more instructional time away from teachers, they will be very mad." This made me appreciate the ones who see practice creativity AS instructional time. Thank you, administrators.

Every teacher, counselor, care-giver, librarian, or person who celebrated and/or shared this day, I thank you. Much praise has been heaped on the founder, but it all belongs to YOU. YOU made this day what it is and even if I thanked you 10 million times, it wouldn't be enough. YOU are heroes.




Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Is creativity something you are born with or can it be cultivated over time?

It can be cultivated. Most importantly IMO it's important to be able to find something that you can do that makes you want to be creative. Does this make sense? Like reading--some people just need to find the right book? Kate Sullivan

I think that creativity is something that one can have an affinity for, the same as one might have for sports, dance or chess. However, it's a skill that has to be cultivated for it to become a profession. Angie Jones


"Creative" is usually considered "artistic" but that is wrong. I truly believe everyone is "creative", it just manifests itself in different ways. And yes it needs to be watered like a flower or worked out like muscles you want to make stronger. Lori Richmond
It can be cultivated, but it's something you have to have the desire to do. Christina Barragan Forshay

Creativity can be cultivated or squashed by your early upbringing. If someone gives you positive feedback about your art as a kid you want to do more and the more you do, the better you get at it. If someone forces you to color within the lines creativity is stifled. Timothy Young
Almost all 3-year-olds test at a genius level for creativity. By the time we reach 23, only about 3-percent retain the mental flexibility. Part is a helpful pruning--ultimately, seeing a sauce pan as a hat is only so useful. But part is trained out of us. So the challenge really is to keep creativity, and to keep practicing it in many contexts. It's sort of become synonymous with art and writing and such. But every aspect of our lives and all of our mental efforts are enriched with active creativity. What new ways can we solve problems? (That's one form of creativity.) What new things can we invent? (That's another.) Martha Brockenbrough

I think everyone is born with an ability to be creative, but you might need to find what form that actually takes. For instance, my child hates painting/drawing/coloring, but he creates the most amazing things with legos. My husband is not at all "artsy" or creative in a stereotypical sense, but his job is problem-solving, coming up with concrete solutions, and then implementing them. I do think that the ability to be creative can be squashed if a person isn't given the space or encouragement to be creative. Piper Kroeze

Yes, we are born creative. Conception, birth, growth, learning, change, life itself, are all one big creative process constantly unfolding. I don't think you need to necessarily cultivate it as much as keep it alive and protected from the forces that would tamper it. It is said of love that all we need to do to have it is to clear the obstacles that are keeping us from it. The same can be said of creativity. First step in being creative: release all fear of being “wrong” for if “right” is nothing more than what has been formerly and commonly agreed upon, then creativity and anything new and different by definition will at first be considered “wrong.” “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

― Jalaluddin Rumi
______
The same goes for creativity.
 There are many ways to define creativity. One of my favorites, as it applies so easily to design problems, is finding solutions within restrictions. The tighter the restrictions, potentially the more creative the solution. Just think of making a great meal out of 3 random things found right now in your fridge. Much more challenging than with a fully stocked chef's kitchen. This type of thinking can be applied to many more fields than we normally consider. I actually want my politicians and scientists and doctors to apply creative problem solving to their jobs just as much as I want designers, writers, and illustrators to.
______
Another way to foster creativity is to encourage lateral thinking and thinking in metaphors. Seeing things for their intrinsic reality vs their ascribed meaning. Hence a walk through a hardware store becomes a flurry of creative ideas of what these silver metal circles could be used for or those black rubber tubes. I cannot help but think that a well-rounded education that certainly encompasses music and art in addition to language, science, math, history, and physical education will foster this and lay the right contemporaneous neural pathways for cross pollination of concepts. Michael Arndt


I think everyone is born with creativity to some degree. For creativity to thrive, it needs to be cultivated, and it needs to not be squashed or conformed. Karen Kirschel

Both. We are all artists. #AshleyBryanWord Hazel G. Mitchell
Both. But the encouragement of it is what brings it alive. Everybody has creating in their body. They must be encouraged to find it and share it. Karla Altrogge Cruz

Yes, you are born with creativity sometimes life's pressures pushes it deep down into the sandbank of our minds. If given the right tools or sunlight it can be cultivated in formed into something far beyond your imagination. Watch it come to surface, It will grow to the height of the biggest tower if given proper attention and the water flow is consistent. If you sit still long enough your mind will outline your thoughts like the lines on an etch sketch. Dream In Color And Do It Out loud as I say. Your creativity relatively may be different from mine, it is all well. "To Walk Close To The Edge And Not To Look Over Is Simply Unheard Of" Nicole M. Stevenson Author

Regardless of where you get it, if creativity is stifled or squelched so does happiness. We must find our creative outlet or as some refer to it , passion, and continue to nurture and grow it so that our souls are filled with true joy. That creative outlet, whatever it may be for each person, is the path to our heart's joy. That happiness is like a wake of creativity that ripples outward and can and will impact others in it's path. Conni Mulligan

I would say both are possible. People can have natural innate creative talents. This we understand more than the other in my opinion. My mother always felt that she didn't have the aptitude for any artistic (non-musical) talents. As a teacher to gifted students, she wanted to be able to help her students use different mediums to express their creativity. By taking sculpting, drawing, etc classes, she realized that through technique she could learn to bring her creative ideas into fruition. Susan Shedenhelm Blake

Humans are creative beings. We make, we improve, and we solve. We are born with few instincts compare to other animals, but our brains are tremendously capable. It has billions of neurons forming complex networks. If networks aren’t used, they go out. But new networks are created all the time, regardless of age. We are able to learn and create throughout our lives. The capacity to be creative is in us all. Stacy McAnulty

Creativity is given and received; cultivating open circuits is a life-time endeavor. talents and technique have to be practiced and tweaked. Jeanne Poland


I think the answer is both. Everyone is born with creativity and curiosity. Kids are much more free to express their creativity in art, writing, music, etc. The older they get, the more creativity has to be cultivated to keep going and to continue to be important. It's so easy to get discouraged if something you create doesn't turn out how you hoped, or even worse, a friend, teacher, family member, or classmate doesn't like it or makes fun of it. To continue being creative, you need to nurture your art, and keep growing / learning to get to the next level. To continue to be creative, you have to realize that you will get better if you keep at it. Your art may never turn out the way you imagine it will, but if you keep making art, it will get better, and might turn out even more amazing than what you hoped it would be. Stephanie Ruble

Both. If you don't exercise it, like any other muscle, creativity will atrophy. I think we all start out as creative (watch any kindergarten class and you'll see that). But it's often squelched. Marissa Moss

"Some people are born as a vehicle of creative energy, and words or images pass through them to be shared with the world. The root word, create, means anyone is capable of creating; however, the 'ivity' suffix signals activity which requires you to actively allow your creations to flow outward. As an author, I do feel like words and ideas come to me (in dreams, while I'm driving or flying), but as an artist, I feel like I have a vision and have to actively work to create it into a piece of art. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they had a great kid's book idea... Only a select few of us put pen to paper, persist and have patience and perseverance, to get published!" www.SusanKatzBooks.com Susan Katz

I think we all have creativity. We need INSPIRING questions, experiences and models. Sally Isaacs

Sunday, July 2, 2017

International Dot Day Links to Share 2017

Introduction

International Dot Day started in a few classrooms in 2009 and has grown into a worldwide celebration. It's a celebration of creativity that can start small, like butcher paper and markers or whole-school dot making in a variety of ways. The big idea is taking time out to be celebrate creativity.

I am constantly sharing links on Twitter and Facebook to encourage more classes to participate, adults are welcome to find me at the above social media sites. 

Countries in Orange have participants (Map as of July 2)

Discovery Education in the Home of Dot Day

Last year, Peter H. Reynolds visited the school where Dot Day began and Discovery Education was there to capture it all! You can see an archive video here. 

KidLitTV



I also write a column for KidLitTV to keep creativity going all year! Find links to the articles here.

Official Page

The official page and sign up are available at thedotclub.org. There is a yearly signup. Please consider signing up and sharing the day with friends and colleagues.

Dot Day posters (Free) including in different languages.

Celebridots

The Celebridot site (http://www.celebridots.com) was inspired by Sharon Creech who sent me a dot on Dot Day 2011. I was so inspired by seeing what one of my favorite authors made for a dot, I asked others and this gallery is available to inspire kids to be creative. If you know an author/illustrator/actor/sports personality who is not on the list, please invite them to participate. Directions for submitting are on the site. 

Ideas/Pinterest

I have curated many Dot Day celebrations through Pinterest. You can find that board here. 

Follow the Twitter hashtag #DotDay for the latest ideas and also be sure to tag your sharing!!

Connecting with other Dotters

Shannon M. Miller, Matthew Winner, and Andy Plemmons have created a great Google Doc for help connecting with other schools on Dot Day. You can find the 2017 document here. Be sure to connect to Shannon, Matthew, and Andy because they are awesome!

Andy Plemmons @plemmonsa
Matthew Winner @matthewwinner
Shannon McClintock Miller @shannonmmiller

Dot Day Products

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

My Favorite Books from 2016

I am often asked for book suggestions, so I am making my suggestions here. These were some of the favorite books I read in 2016. They may not all be from this year, but that's when I read them. Some of these were from friends and some were given to my by publishers, however, that does not impact my recommendation. If I don't love a book, I don't talk about it. These are my very favorite from this year and will undoubtedly grow as I realize I forgot to include some books, so check back.

Updated: December 11 

Picture Books

Ida Always by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoro
   My friend Samantha told me to buy this book and she was so so so right. Beautiful illustrations and a very sweet (and sad) story.


Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael Lopez
     Another recommendation from Samantha and a perfect addition to my collection. That sticker on the front is not wrong!

Lucy's Lovey by Betsy Devany and illustrated by Christopher Denise
     OK, it's true, Christopher Denise could illustrate the phone book and I'd buy copies, but this is a lovely story from Betsy that is sure to win over your lovey loving friends.

Shy by Deborah Freedman
     Deborah Freedman has a style. I call it amazing. This is a sweet gentle book that needs more attention. 


A Friend for Mole by Nancy Armo
     Nancy Armo is an amazingly kind person, so of course her book reflects that. I read this to a class and they absolutely loved it. It's a very sweet story about finding your way when you're lost. 


Monster Trucks by Anika Denise and illustrated by Nate Wragg
     How many times do I have to tell you to buy this book???? It's super fun and the illustrations add to that. This is the first book that my Kindergarten class cheered, "Read it again, read it again" after I finished. My high school morning book club still mentions this book from reading it last year.


Hello, My Name is Tiger by Jennifer Goldfinger
     I picked up this book because I loved the illustration on the cover. It's a super new perspective and I loved the inside too.

Birdie's Happiest Halloween by Sujean Rim
     Yes, of course I love Sujean and Birdie, who doesn't. However, this is such a fun sweet book that needs many more readers. Check out all of Sujean's books.

The Water Princess by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, inspired by Georgie Badiel
     Peter's illustrations in this book make it worth the price. The story is simply told and amazingly powerful. It's an important book to shed light on a problem (clean water) that is found around the world.


Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins
     Another recommendation from Samantha....this one literally made me laugh out loud.

You're My Boo by Kate Dopirak and illustrated by Lesley Breen Withrow
    We read this the other day in my morning book club and a girl said that this was the cutest book ever. She was right. It's sweet.


Hotel Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins
     I love Bruce. This is awesome and very funny.

Snappsy the Alligator: Did Not Ask to Be in This Book by Julie Falatko and illustrated by Tim Miller
     Snappsy is quite the character. I have a funny story about the first time I read this, but I'll give you the short version. I saw it at NCTE in the Penguin book last November. I literally laughed out loud. VERY funny book. 


Before I Leave by Jessixa Bagley
     I loved Boats for Papa, so I was pretty sure this book would be something I really liked. It's totally different, but yet teaches a valuable lesson. Love love love!


The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield
     A recommendation from my friend Samantha, this book is beautiful and perfect.

A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story About Knitting and Love by Michelle Edwards and G. Brian Karas
     I loved this gentle and sweet story. I think you will love it as well.

The Friend Ship by Kat Yeh and illlustrated by Chuck Groenink
     A great story and really beautiful illustrations. When I read this to a first grade class, one kid said, "Awesome" another kid, looking very incredulous said, "Way better than awesome!"

Toby by Hazel Mitchell
     The story of Toby, a rescue dog and his relationship with his new family. A very sweet book.

Playing From the Heart by Peter H. Reynolds
     It is well known that I love Peter's books. This one is filled with heart and music....two great things.
   
Beautiful by Stacy McAnulty and illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
    A wonderful book about what beautiful is.

The Fix It Man by Susan Hood and illustrated by Arree Chung
     Let's be honest, just Arree's illustration make it worth the purchase, but Susan's words put it over the top! A super fun book.

101 Reasons Why I'm Not Taking a Bath by Stacy McAnulty and illustrated by Joy Ang
     Hilarious book. I read it to a Kindergarten class and they loved every page!!

Middle Grade and Above:


Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley
     I saw this book everywhere online. My friends raved, so I bought it. So good and worthy of the praise heaped on it.

Ghost by Jason Reynolds
     I love Jason Reynolds' books. Pernille Ripp told me I HAD to buy this one, so I did. I loved it. Again, worthy of all the awards it has and will receive.

Moo: a novel by Sharon Creech
     There is something so warm and wonderful about the worlds that Sharon Creech spins out. Reading her books makes me happy and content. She truly is a master storyteller.


Making Friends with Billy Wong by Augusta Scattergood
     Augusta really created a beautiful story with this book. You can picture the people and the places. Just wonderful.


The Thing About Leftovers by C. C. Payne
     Nancy Paulsen sent me this book and it sat on a pile for a while. Something about the cover didn't really speak to me. LUCKY FOR ME,  I picked it up and started reading it one day. It's one of my very favorite of all time. C.C. has a unique voice and this was an excellent book to show off her skills. I have recommended it to the elementary counselor for people with blended families, and also bought a copy for my school. Check this book out!!!

Be Light Like a Bird by Monika Schröder
     This is what I wrote on GoodReads,"So many great moments in this book. It will remind you of a few other books in concept, but a unique voice comes shining through that makes you forget the others. It's about the power of love and redemption and things not being as they seem. See? You've read other books like that. However, this one will captivate you and you won't want it to end."


Wish by Barbara O'Connor 
The power of love and hope are woven through this story. It's an important book.

Liberty by Kirby Larson
     I have to be honest, my students and I were lucky enough to be able to help name some characters in this book, however, I love it independent of that. Kirby is the queen of historical fiction and this book proves why. Amazing storytelling.

Maxi's Secrets: or What you can Learn from a Dog by Lynn Plourde
     I didn't cry at this book, YOU cried at this book. OK, no, really, a stray dust storm went through my house.... OK, fine, yes, it made me cry.....but it also made my heart swell. It totally is worth the tears. I loved this so much!

Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin
     This book is a love letter to kids with illnesses and the families that surround them. Love! This one has honesty and heart.

Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu      
     This is an exceptional book that unfolds on so many levels. I said on GoodReads, "Overcoming obstacles....overcoming fears....overcoming flawed families....it's all here. Told in verse and a very sweet style, you follow the story of a young girl forced to live with a demanding grandmother while waiting for her mother to give birth."

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

International Dot Day Links to Share - 2016

International Dot Day started in a few classrooms in 2009 and has grown into a celebration celebrated around the world. I am constantly sharing links on Twitter and Facebook to encourage more classes to participate, adults may feel free to connect with me.

Official Page and Signup: http://www.thedotclub.org is where to send people first. There is a yearly signup and lots of resources and ideas to make your day (week, month, school year) successful. Please encourage people to check out the site and sign up!!

The amazing Celebridot Site: http://www.celebridots.com The site was inspired by Sharon Creech who sent me a dot on Dot Day 2011. I was so inspired by her graciousness that I decided to start asking other celebrities to make their mark. So many awesome dots are now on the site by the best people out there. If you know an author/illustrator/actor/sports personality, please invite them to participate. The determining factor on 'celebrity' status is if kids would recognize his/her name or work. There are now 220 dots up!

I have curated a group of Dot Day celebrations through Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/tjshay/international-dot-day/ I also encourage you to search Pinterest for International Dot Day as I may have missed some. Beautiful stuff there! I also have a newer board for Dot Day Ideas here: http://www.pinterest.com/tjshay/international-dot-day-ideas/

Shannon M. Miller, Matthew Winner, and Andy Plemmons have created a great Google Doc for help connecting with other schools on Dot Day. You can find the 2016 document here. Be sure to connect to Shannon, Matthew, and Andy because they are awesome! 
Andy Plemmons @plemmonsa
Matthew Winner @matthewwinner
Shannon McClintock Miller @shannonmmiller

This year people have wondered if 7-12 students can participate in Dot Day! I am very proud to share this site from my school: https://www.flickr.com/photos/106506195@N07/sets/72157636908020134/ In 2013, every kid in grades 7-12 (and the awesome teachers) created a dot on his/her tablet and we took a large picture in the gym and also created a Flickr online gallery of all the dots.

I also would encourage you to use and search the #DotDay hashtag on Twitter! The very best and most creative educators on the planet will be found there!

Another way to connect to the best people is to check and follow people from this great Superheroes of Dot Day post on the FableVision Learning Blog. 

Do high school kids want to make dots?? Check out this blogpost from last year where I asked my former high school kids what they liked about the day.

Happy Dot Day!!


Sunday, November 15, 2015

My Favorite Books of 2015

I am sometimes asked for book recommendations so I am going to list some of my favorite books of 2015 (and two that come out in January). I will undoubtedly add to this post with books I read before the new year and also the ones that should be on here but I've forgotten to add. Check back!

Picture Books

Dewey Bob by Judy Schachner
     This is a really sweet book with really cool art. I loved the sweet story and the storytelling.


Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Julie Morstad
      An amazing story told in perfect words by Laurel Snyder and absolutely stunning art by Julie Morstad. I can't say enough good things about this book. One particular spread literally made me stop and marvel for a long time. 

The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
     No one tells a humorous story like Drew Daywalt. This book does not disappoint. The sheer amount of weeks on the NYT list should tell you something about this book. I can also tell you, Drew is one of the nicest people in the world. Love to see the good guy get ahead!

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
     There are times when there is so much talk about a book and you are disappointed... You will not be disappointed with this book. A great true story told with awesome art.

Little Elliot, Big Family by Mike Curato
     I love everything about Elliot. I have given this and it's predecessor away several times because it has a lot of heart. 

Wolfie The Bunny by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora
     Ame Dyckman is a seriously funny person. You get to see that shine through in Wolfie The Bunny!

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast by Joshua Funk, illustrated by Brendan Kearney
     This is a fun book to read and to read aloud. The quest of Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast is just plain fun.

Growing Up Pedro by Matt Tavares
     Inspiring story with the most stunning art. Matt has truly made a masterpiece with this book. 

You and Me by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
     Looking for a book about friendship? This is it. A very sweet message with Peter's awesome illustrations.

Birdie's First Day of School by Sujean Rim
     Birdie is a handful and this book is the perfect companion to the first days of school. I gave a copy to the Kindergarten teacher because I thought it was important to get this in the hands of kids! As a bonus, I love Sujean!

Snoozefest by Samantha Berger, illustrated by Kristyna Litten
     Another read-aloud classic, you can't help but love everything Samantha Berger writes. Take a trip with a lovable sloth and you will feel sleepy in no time. 

The Whale in my Swimming Pool by Joyce Wan
     Here is how I read every Joyce Wan book.... Open the book, look at every cute picture and wonder how art can be so cute, then go back and enjoy the story.  This is a fun book and the Kindergarten class I read it to loved it!


(New Additions)
There Was An Old Dragon that Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klostermann, illustrated by Ben Mantle
     Fun read aloud that will inspire kids to think of ways to change old songs into fresh and fun new songs!

Daylight, Starlight, Wildlife by Wendell Minor
     I am the world's biggest Wendell Minor fan (except maybe for Florence). Absolutely stunning art work contrasting day and night creatures.

Your Alien by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Goro Fujita
     Super story and really different (and awesome) illustrations. 

Middle Grade and YA

Mosquitoland by David Arnold
     A really smart adventure book. This book has it all from laughs to heartache. 

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
     I've probably already recommended this book....to everyone. But just in case, I had a two week book hangover from this book. I didn't want to read another book, I wanted to remain in this world. Read this, you will love it.

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
     So much heart packed into these pages. A great story that might help you find your sense of wonder again.

Firefly Hollow by Alison McGhee with art by Christopher Denise
     I would recommend this book based on the Christopher Denise magical artwork alone. However, Alison has written a great story about love, friendship and fitting in.

The Truth about Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh
     This book is a great story which is told in such a way that little bits are revealed and you can't help but wonder how someone could write such a sweet and wonderful story. Included in this book are recipes and, you might just run out and buy your wife some Cherries in the Snow lipstick!


Fish In A Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
     This book should be required reading for all teachers, administrators, and everyone who has struggled in school. This book is for the kids who struggle and everyone who helps the kids who struggle. I think of it as a love letter to teachers everywhere. I believe this book will change lives.


Coming Soon: 

Audacity Jones to the Rescue by Kirby Larson (January 26, 2016)
     This is such a fun adventure story. I wasn't really sure what to think when it arrived, but I loved every single word. Kirby Larson tells an amazing story. I don't know many people who can make historical fiction so fun to read.

Peddles by Elizabeth Rose Stanton (January 5, 2016)
     If we have been friends for longer than ten minutes, you know I adore Elizabeth Rose Stanton.  Part of the reason is because she is a generous and kind person. The major reason is because she writes unusual and extraordinary stories. I have read hundreds of books and sometimes they all blend together, but Henny and Peddles have both struck a chord in me as unique and important. The message kids get from these books is so important. I read Peddles to the Kindergarten class and they loved every minute. See their review below.