Review Policy

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Book Review: Sumi's First Day of School Ever

Author: Soyung Pak
Illustrator: Joung Un Kim

From the Book Jacket: When Sumi arrives at school on her first day, she sees a big building. She sees strange children. (Some are big.) She sees wide stairs and a big metal fence. School is a lonely place, she thinks. When Sumi enters the noisy classroom and hears loud children saying things she doesn't understand, Sumi feels even worse. School is a scary place. And when a little boy squishes his eyes and makes a face at Sumi, thats when she decides school is a mean place. 

This is a thoughtful picture book about a young Korean girl trying to find her place in a new classroom on the first day of school. For Sumi, the first day is extra hard because she doesn't know the same language as everybody else. But with some help from a kind teacher and the fortunate acquaintance of a friendly girl at recess, Sumi realizes that maybe school is not as lonely, scary, or mean as she thought.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: What a wonderful read aloud for the first month of school! This is a time when we are building community around new students and making sure everyone is feeling welcome and included. We also have students from different countries and this is their first school experience. Students get to experience the feelings of fear and loneliness through Sumi's eyes. There is a boy who displays mean behavior but turns his actions into kindness thanks to his teacher. But a friendship begins to bloom when another little girl approaches Sumi and introduces herself. Loved this story and the impact it is having on our students. 

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Book Review: Wild About Us!

Author: Karen Beaumont
Illustrator: Janet Stevens
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

From the Book Jacket: Warty Warthog may have warts and tusks, but he likes himself that way! Join him as he celebrates all of his animal friends and the attributes that make each one unique. Whether it’s Crocodile's toothy grin or Kangaroo’s huge feet or Leopard’s spottiness, each animal is different. Wouldn’t it be dull if all the animals at the zoo—and all the people in the world—looked alike? A joyful picture-book celebration of everything that makes us individuals!

Why It's On My Bookshelf: With everything going on in this world right now we need books that teach differences, acceptance, and diversity more then ever. Those are our strengths! I love this picture book. It's a celebration of how we are all different which makes life beautiful. I see myself using this to start a discussion and then move into a creative art project where students can show their own uniqueness while learning to appreciate every ones differences. Love!

A Link To This Book and Others You Might Find Useful: 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Book Review: Let Me Finish!

Author: Minh Le 
Illustrator: Isabel Roxas
Interest Level: Ages and Up

From the Book Jacket: When our young hero settles in to read, the last thing he wants is for some noisy animals to ruin the ending of the story. But ruin it they do. And as it turns out, the boy is quickly approaching a surprise ending of his own! Maybe he should have listened to the animals after all...

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I think this serves as a great social skills lesson to students. I'm always on the hunt for books that might give a perspective about showing respect when someone is trying to learn or is engaged in a task. Every time the boy in the book tries to read he is interrupted. He becomes QUITE agitated. I see this as a great teaching tool in the classroom. As a community we want to teach students to be aware of how our behavior and actions are impacting others. If someone is trying to learn - be respectful. The ending is to the book is a bit silly but the lesson is CLEAR in the story. Excited to have something new to use when teaching listening skills. 

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

Friday, July 21, 2017

Book Review: Always Remember

Author: Cece Meng
Illustrator: Jago
Interest Level: Ages 3 and Up

From the Book Jacket: After Old Turtle swims his last swim and breathes his last breath, and the waves gently take him away, his friends lovingly remember how he impacted each and every one of them. As the sea animals think back on how much better Old Turtle made their lives and their world, they realize that he is not truly gone, because his memory and legacy will last forever. This is a picture book that will comfort those who have lost a loved one. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This is definitely at the top of my list for books to assist children with grief. It really focuses on what a wonderful life Old Turtle had because he was such a generous and loving soul. We can be sad when we lose someone but also be so comforted by all of our positive interactions and encounters we had with them. I kept thinking of the word "cherish" as we read each page. 

I love the last page: 
He was a wonderful teacher and friend. 
He loved to laugh and have fun. 
He explored the unknown and discovered great things. 
He showed kindness and strength. 
And he made his world a better place. 
When he was done, the ocean took him back. 
But what he left behind was only the beginning.

This is a very helpful resource and I'm so happy to have it on my shelf. 

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

Book Review: Some Bunny To Talk To - A Story About Going to Therapy

Authors: Cheryl Sterling, Paola Conte, and Larissa Labay
Illustrator: Tiphanie Beeke
Interest Level: Ages 4-8

From the Book Jacket: Little Bunny has a problem and he doesn't know how to solve it. Sometimes things in a little bunny's life can feel so hard. So Big Bunny has an idea. 

"I have an idea. I'd like you to talk to Some Bunny. Some Bunny is a therapist."

Some Bunny To Talk To presents therapy in a way that is simple, direct, and easy for young children to understand. Children will hear about what to expect from therapy and how therapists are very good at helping kids to solve problems. They will learn about the ins and outs of therapy and that therapy can be a positive and helpful experience!

Why It's On My Bookshelf: How do you tell your child they are going to see a therapist? Well this book is a great opening to that conversation. It's very concrete and positive. It talks about why you would go see a counselor, how long you will be there for, and what activities you might do. It also emphasizes it's a place where you can feel safe and solve problems. Excellent! I especially like the note to parents and caregivers at the end of the story. It gives great tips on how to support children in therapy so their experience is healing and helpful. 

A Link to This Book: 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Book Review: Twindergarten

Author: Nikki Ehrlich
Illustrator: Zoey Abbott
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

From the Book Jacket: 
Dax and Zoe are twins. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. 

It’s the night before the twins are starting kindergarten, and they have the just-about-to-start-school jitters. After all, they will be in different classrooms! What will kindergarten be like when they’re not together all day? But Dax and Zoe will learn that kindergarten is full of new surprises and adventures, and being apart for a short while isn’t so bad. 
From author Nikki Ehrlich and artist Zoey Abbott Wagner comes a heartwarming picture book that’s perfect for anyone dealing with new experiences, especially little ones getting ready for school.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: What a great idea to write a book about twins experiencing kindergarten together but also separately. We have had many sets of twins go through this together and I think this is a really empowering book to help both children feel secure and confident. I would even recommend reading this to your child if they are not a twin. The message is about staying positive, that it's okay to make new friends, and to persevere through your day even when you are feeling a little uncertain. Loved it! 

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Book Review: Take the Time - Mindfulness for Kids

Author/Illustrator: Take the Time - Mindfulness for Kids
Interest Level: Ages 5 and Up

From the Book Jacket: With gentle rhythms and soothing imagery, Take the Time, guides kids toward self-awareness and mindfulness. The book encourages children to slow down and become deliberate with their day-to-day actions and thoughts. And when any old day feels topsy-turvy, mindfulness tools may help your child calm down and feel better. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I discovered this book from a really neat school counseling blog called The School Counselor Kind. Check it out here. I have been looking for a book to use with my third though fifth graders and this seems to be a perfect fit. At first I was worried it might be too young of a book for my upper grades but after seeing the activity posted on Kayla's blog, I knew it was a perfect fit. I liked the message of teaching kids to take the time to get yourself back together when things fall apart and to also think before you "blurt out" or "tell a secret." Two thumbs up!

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

Monday, June 5, 2017

Book Review: Jabari Jumps

Author/Illustrator: Gaia Cornwell
Interest Level: Ages 4-8

From the Book Jacket: Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He's finished his swimming lessons. He's passed his swim test. It's just...maybe he should do some stretches first. "Looks easy," says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. Gaia Cornwell makes her picture-book debut in a story about what it takes to work up the courage to make a big important leap. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: Such a great story about how we can turn our self-doubt into courage to overcome something that may seem scary or too hard of a task. Jabari goes through that thought process and with the help of his dad he is able to take the big jump.His dad teaches him to take a deep breath and change his self-talk into something positive. 
I will definitely be using this in my kindergarten and first grade growth mindset lessons next year. Another winner!

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

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Book Review: What a Beautiful Morning

Author: Arthur A. Levine
Illustrator: Katie Kath
Interest Level: Ages 5 and Up

From the Book Jacket: Every morning is beautiful when Noah visits his Grandparents. Grandpa and Noah take off singing and hardly stop: walking the dog, splashing through puddles, eating French toast with cinnamon. 

But one summer Grandpa seems to have forgotten how to do the things they love. Does he even know who Noah is? Grandma steps in energetically, filling in as best she can. But it is Noah who finds the way back to something he can share with Grandpa. Something musical. Something that makes the morning beautiful again. This is a story about how love helps us find even what we think is lost. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This is a really helpful story to help support children who are experiencing their grandparent going through changes. The gradual memory loss of Noah's grandparent has an impact on their relationship and it takes an emotional toll on him. What I really loved about this book is instead of everything becoming so sad, the child develops a new perspective on focusing on the positive things that are happening in the present. This models a healthy approach to dealing with something that otherwise might be scary and confusing. This one is a winner!

A Link to This Book: 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Book Review: This is My Dollhouse

Author/Illustrator: Giselle Potter
Interest Level: Ages 4-8

From the Book Jacket: I made my dollhouse out of a cardboard box. It has an elevator that goes up and down, a rooftop swimming pool, and a very special family that lives in it. My friend Sophie has a dollhouse too. It's perfect. The dolls all look the same, and everything matches. What will Sophie say when she sees mine?

Why It's On My Bookshelf: My daughter and I recently discovered this book and I thought it was going to be a story about a girl who creates a dollhouse using a cardboard box. But it is much more than that. When the two girls have a play date a tense moment happens between them where one of them tries to control everything. She shuts the other friend down and won't listen to any of her ideas. This was such a great teachable moment. We had a good discussion about remembering to be a flexible friend and not shut down others ideas just because you might not want to play that way. The story ends with the girls having another play date and they are open to each others ideas and cooperate together. 

A Link to This Book: