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'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: 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: 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: 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:

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: 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!!