Thursday, April 17, 2014

Book Review: Always By My Side

Author: Susan Kerner
Illustrator: Ian P Benfold Haywood
Interest Level: Ages 5 and Up

From the Book Jacket: Always By My Side is a comforting rhyming story written to help children understand that a father's love is forever, even if they grow up without his presence in their lives. 

This gentle, beautifully illustrated book conveys the heart-warming message to children that even though a father is absent, he is still part of them. They will realize that they are like him in character, looks and actions; that his spirit surrounds them in their day-to-day activities, and helps to make them who they are. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: Just beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I held this book to my heart after I read it. Children will feel solace and the words will console the hurt and loss they feel. The loss of a parent is devastating but they are always by your side in spirit. Such great wisdom to share with children as they journey through their lives. So pleased to offer this to families in need of grief bibliotherapy. 

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Two Great Books on Paying it Forward

One Smile
Author: Cindy McKinley
Illustrator: Mary Gregg Byrne
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

About This Book: When young Katie smiles sweetly at a dejected-looking man in the park, little does she know the amazing chain of events her simple act of kindness has put into motion. Her innocent smile not only brightens this young man’s day, it moves on to touch the lives of countless others. As each person affected by this chain “pays it forward” with their own small act of kindness, it eventually comes full circle back to Katie.

One Voice
Author: Cindy McKinley
Illustrator: Mary Gregg Byrne
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

About This Book: In this compelling sequel to the award-winning One Smile, a young boy’s wish for a more peaceful world ignites a chain reaction of goodwill and cooperation that spreads throughout his community. After Jacob gives a teacher his seat on the bus, his simple act of kindness is passed on to a neighbor, a mailman, a lonely young girl, a basketball player, and a dentist’s daughter before finally coming full circle to bless him and his special project. 

Why They Are On My Bookshelf: If you are thinking of doing a lesson on creating more kindness in your community, these two books should be in your top five for this category. I love LOVE them.  I was thrilled to make the discovery of a second book One Voice - the amazing sequel to One Smile. Many of the teachers at my school have asked to borrow them for further discussion. 

My lovely friend designed this AWESOME print and I used it as our kindness theme when we read the books. It's so perfect for building community. Maybe a Teachers Pay Teachers product?

A Link to These Books:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book Review: The Great Big Book of Feelings

Author: Mary Hoffman
Illustrator: Ros Asquith
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

From the Book Jacket: Happy, sad, excited, bored, silly, shy, confident...Explore lots of different feelings with the children in this book, including how to share and talk about feelings, and how to help yourself feel better.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This is a proactive book about feelings. It takes it a step further then just defining a feeling - it gives kids guidance on what to do with some of those emotions that might trip up their day. I'm happy to share this new one with students but was also reflecting as a parent how this will be going in my daughter's library. It's wonderful. 

Feelings covered: Happy, sad, excited, interested, angry, upset, calm, silly, lonely, scared, safe, embarassed, shy, confident, worried, jealous, satisfied, and bored.

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Book Review: The Way I Feel Series

The Way I Feel Series
Author: Cornelia Maude Spelman
Illustrator: Kathy Parkinson 
Interest Level: Ages 3 and Up

Why They Are On My Bookshelf: This is such a helpful series on emotions for our students. They are in a basket at my peace table.  I introduce them in the beginning of the year and show students how to use them as a tool to overcome a challenging feeling. Each story shows children how to recognize the feeling and what they can do to feel better.

When I Feel Sad
"Sometimes I feel sad. I feel sad when someone won't let me play, or when I really want to tell about something and nobody listens. When someone else is sad, I feel sad, too. ... Sad is a cloudy, tired feeling. Nothing seems fun when I feel sad."

Children will take comfort in this story. Readers will recognize similar experiences in their own lives as this little guinea pig describes feeling sad when someone is cross or when something bad happens. Eventually our heroine realizes that feeling sad doesn't last forever.

When I Feel Scared
Children often feel afraid. This book, with its comforting words and illustrations, will help children address those fears and learn some new ways to cope with being afraid. First, a little bear describes some of the things that frighten him, like bad dreams or big, tall slides, or when his mother goes away. Sometimes, he just feels scared and doesn’t know why! But he learns there are things he can do to make himself feel better. A "Note to Parents and Teachers" reinforces the positive messages in the book.

 When I Feel Good About Myself
"I feel good about myself. Somebody loves me just as I am. I don't have to look like anyone else, be the same size, or do the same things. It's fine to be me."

This book offers children positive and upbeat examples about being themselves. The author portrays a very young guinea pig and friends feeling good about themselves through common situations readers will relate to. Together, the text and art will foster self-esteem and independence.
 When I Care About Others
 In today’s society, perhaps more than ever, young children need to develop empathy. In this simple book, the author begins by helping children see that when they are sick, hurt, or unhappy, others care about them. Children can then begin to see that others need to be cared about as well. Common situations will further a child’s appreciation for and understanding of what others feel and need.

When I Feel Jealous
A bear cub describes situations that make her jealous: when someone has something she wants, when someone is good at something she wants to be good at, and when someone else gets all the attention. "Jealousy is a prickly, hot, horrible feeling. I don't like feeling jealous, but—everybody feels jealous sometimes." The little bear finds ways to make herself feel better—she talks to someone about how she feels and then does something pleasant—and soon the jealous feeling goes away. 

When I Feel Angry
Anger is a scary emotion for young children, their parents, and caregivers. As this little bunny experiences the things that make her angry, she also learns ways to deal with her anger—ways that won't hurt others.

When I Miss You
Young children often experience anxiety when they are separated from their mothers or fathers. This newest title in "The Way I Feel" series features a young guinea pig who expresses her distress when her mother and father go away. "Missing you is a heavy, achy feeling. I don't like missing you. I want you right now!" Eventually the little guinea pig realizes that sometimes she and her parents can't be together. When that happens, she knows that others can help. "They can snuggle with me or we can play. It helps me to be warm and close to someone. They remind me that you'll be back."

When I Feel Worried
Everybody worries. Children worry, too—in new or confusing situations, or when someone is angry with them. This new addition to the acclaimed The Way I Feel Series uses reassuring words and touching illustrations to address a child’s anxieties and shows him ways to help him feel better. Cornelia Maude Spelman and Kathy Parkinson team up once again to provide a comforting and empowering book that’s helpful to all families. 

A Link to These Books: 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Book Review: Regina's Big Mistake

Author/Illustrator: Marissa Moss
Interest Level: Ages 5 and Up

From the Book Jacket:  Everyone in Mrs. Li's class got a piece of paper. Everyone was supposed to draw a jungle or a rain forest. That meant Regina, too. But where should she begin? And what if she should make a mistake? Jungles are sprouting up on classmates' papers all around her, but Regina's own paper remains blank. And when she finally puts crayon to paper, nothing seems to go right. 

Regina's difficult journey of self-expression will be all-too-familiar to anyone who has faced the command to "draw," "write," or "be creative." Readers will come to discover, with Regina, some liberating truths about creativity and originality that should make the most timid reach for a box of crayons.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: Children who are striving for perfection will really relate to Regina's Big Mistake. I'm going to use this story to help kids build self-confidence. Some kids think a successful accomplishment needs to be a perfect result from start to finish. When the truth is the process of making mistakes, trying again, and seeing something through is the real feeling of success. 

Regina does not start her drawing right away because she wants to get it just right. How many kids have you seen sitting there - drawing a blank. Or maybe they are afraid of failing. The fear of failure can be a real obstacle. What Regina figures out is positive things can be learned by making mistakes. Such a great lesson to share with students. I'm on it!

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:

Monday, December 30, 2013

Book Review: Wilma Unlimited

Author: Kathleen Krull
Illustrator: David Diaz
Interest Level: Ages 6 and Up

From the Book Jacket: One of the most energetic kids in the town Clarksville, Tennessee, Wilma loves to run and laugh and play with her nineteen older brothers and sisters. But before she's five years old, she gets very sick, and the doctor's news is not good: polio has paralyzed her left leg. Everyone says that Wilma will never walk again. 

Wilma refuses to believe it. Not only will she walk again, she vows, she'll run. It takes years. It takes hard work. But at last she does run - across the basketball court, around the track, and eventually, all the way to the Olympic Games.  

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This is an inspiring story to read after winter break. I'm already thinking about June! We all need a good dose of PERSEVERANCE! We live in a time when kids expect an immediate reward without putting in the hard work. We need to encourage children to establish a target and practice their skills to achieve it. Even if it's a small finishing a book. We will be using Wilma Unlimited as our school's book of the month and I am so happy that ALL of our students will get to hear her story and learn the importance of perseverance.

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Bibliotherapy Book Bin Labels (free download)

In the fall, I moved from an office to a classroom. The beginning of the school year was  crazy busy and did not leave a lot of time to get organized. So my books all went onto the shelves but not in any particular order. It's been on my To Do List to create a new system with baskets and labels. Recently a teacher was looking for books on perseverance. We went through all my books trying to find specific titles. It took us forever! So enough was enough - time to put my new organization system into action! Of course, the labels needed to be AMAZING looking. They turned out BEAUTIFUL. My books are special to me so I feel such pride when I walk into my classroom and see them displayed with such love - thanks to my new lovely labels.

So if you want to get your books organized and need new labels - just download them from my Teachers Pay Teachers store HERE  

I used this Gratitude print to display books showing this character trait. These prints will soon be available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Until then, enjoy your new book bin labels.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

One of My Favorites From 2013

Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream For Me
Author: Daniel Beaty
Illustrator: Bryan Collier
From the Book Jacket: Every morning, I play a game with my father. He goes KNOCK KNOCK on my door, and I pretend to be asleep till he gets right next to the bed. And my papa, he tells me, "I love you."
But what happens when, one day, that KNOCK KNOCK doesn't come? This powerful and inspiring book shows the love that an absent parent can leave behind, and the strength that children find in themselves as they grow up and follow their dreams.
Why It's On My Bookshelf: This is the one of the most powerful books I've read all year. There are many children in my school dealing with an absent parent. Their pain is real and very present. Can you imagine carrying that around all day? Knock Knock My Dad's Dream For Me tells kids they don't have to let this emotional baggage drag them down. They can knock down the doors and open new ones to their dreams. They can become their best and have a bright, beautiful future. The last few pages are full of these inspirational words with such touching illustrations of a father and son embracing had me teary.....but hopeful as a counselor that I can offer love and light though such a healing book.
At the end of the book Author Daniel Beaty gives the reader insight as to why he wrote this book. I'm forever changed because of it. Daniel, thank you for opening your heart so that so many others could be opened too.
Author's Note
When I was a small child, my father was my principal caregiver. While my mother was at the office working, my father would change my diapers, feed me, and let me ride on his shoulders to the grocery store. He also woke me up each morning with our private Knock Knock game. When I was three, he was incarcerated. My mother took me to visit him in prison, and he was behind glass. This experience was traumatic for me, and I was not allowed to visit my father again in prison for many years. As I grew older, I became aware of the tremendous void created by my father's absence. On my journey to adulthood, I realized how important it was for me to address the pain created by this separation. Later, as an educator of small children, I discovered how many of my students were also dealing with the loss of a father from incarceration, divorce, or sometimes even death. This experience prompted me to tell the story of this loss from a child's perspective and also to offer hope that every fatherless child can still create the most beautiful life possible.
A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Book Review: The Grouchies


Author: Debbie Wagenbach
Illustrator: Steve Mack
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

From the Book Jacket: Lots of things make kids grouchy. Their sister plays with a favorite toy. They can't finish a puzzle. Or they're just in a bad mood. So what can children do when they get grouchy? How can parents help them deal with bad moods?

The Grouchies does just this. In a fun rhyming story, kids follow a boy through a grouchy day. Through him, kids will learn easy, practical ways to turn their grouchies into smiles and understand how their mood can affect others. 

An extensive Note to Parents further explains the child's experience and provides parents with easy-to-apply tips and tools for helping their kids when a grumpy day comes along.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I've been reading Calm and Compassionate Children: A Handbook and it made me think of - The Grouchies. The boy in the story has a running tape in his head: "Grouch and grump at everyone you meet throughout the day. Don't be nice to anyone and you will get your way!" Many children struggle with this internal dialogue and it becomes an unhealthy coping mechanism. There is a chapter in Calm and Compassionate Children titled 'High-Mindedness' that really spoke to me and the work I do with children in the area of self talk.

When we think positive thoughts, our feelings become peaceful. When our thoughts are negative, we become edgy, irritable, even angry or agitated. High-mindedness is the practice of focusing our thoughts in a positive direction. Positive thinking aids healing. 
- Calm and Compassionate Children

The Grouchies is a perfect book to help kids turn unhelpful and negative thoughts into high-mindedness. The boy gets rid of his negative feelings by using positive words. I like the concrete way the story is told and I can't wait to integrate it into my lessons. It's going to move more kiddos out of stinkin' thinkin' and into empowerment.

 A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Book Review: Whale Shines - An Artistic Tale

Author/Illustrator: Fiona Robinson
Interest Level: Ages 5 and Up

From the Book Jacket: All day, Whale swims through the ocean, advertising the annual art exhibition. Whale sees the beautiful things his friends make - Hammerhead's salvage sculptures, Giant Squid's ink paintings, Eel's patterns in the sand - and wishes he could be an artist too. If only he weren't so big, clumsy, and uninspired. Then one day, with help from a very unexpected source, he discovers his own distinct point of view and talent. This is a tale about defying expectation and finding the artist within.

At one point whale sinks to the bottom of the ocean floor. It's important to point out how we all sometimes get that sinking feeling and can feel really low.
 This was a great lead-in to negative self talk and all of the UNtruths we tell ourselves.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I almost passed this one up. That would have been a huge mistake. But the cover pulled me in and I had to see what it was all about. Whale's journey is everybody's journey. He doesn't believe he can do it, that he has no worth, and compares himself to others. He also has a lot of negative self-talk going on. He says a lot of "I can't" through the book. I am reading this book K-5 because I feel so strongly that kids are suffering with self-doubt throughout the school year. I want to help be their champ and turn themselves into their own champs. This is just the story. Also, a wonderful reminder to help be a cheerleader for others when they are down. Great stuff here.

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: