Posted in Book Reviews, Reading

Who Doesn’t Need Some High Interest Non-Fiction?

As an elementary teacher I’m always on a mission to find high interest books for our classrooms; both fiction and non-fiction. Here in our last few days of school many of my teachers are inventorying their libraries and preparing for next school year. Several have mentioned to me that they would love to get some new and fairly inexpensive books for next year. So…here I am…once again on a book hunt.

Many of you know that I really cannot resist buying books and I also love a great bargain. So many teachers purchase booms with their own personal money so I try to find good deals wherever I can. One of my go to places for quality cheap books is You can find hardbacks and softcovers of many wonderful children’s books at this site. I have even purchased books in hardback for less than $7 and found that they were signed by the author when they arrived! I often will get 15-20 hardback books for less than $100! Tomorrow (June 12) they are starting their 15% off sale. Check it out!!!!

But I digress…In my most recent order I purchased some Ready to Read Science and History Fun stuff books; each was $1.79 in paperback. They came today and boy…these are fabulous! These are short chapter books which are geared toward 2nd-3rd grade levels. Each book is filled with colorful and inviting illustrations. In addition, the text is highly engaging. The topics in these books will entice your readers to add these titles to their reading list. A few of these topics include the secrets behind candy, the scoop on ice cream, history of cookies, secrets behind fireworks, the deep dish on pizza, the innings and outs of baseball, stellar space travel, and many more!

These books would also make fantastic read alouds for teachers to model great strategies that good readers use. In fact, our WCPS teachers have a few Ready to Read cultural books in our grade 2 text sets that were purchased this spring. This Ready to Read series focus on countries and their cultures and is titled the “Living in…”. If you want your students to learn more about places in the U.S. be sure to check out the Wonders of the America series also. All of these books are just as fabulous as these Science and History of Fun Stuff books.

If you are interested in a complete lists of the books in the three Ready to Read series I mentioned above here is a link to each set of books. If you decide to purchase be sure to check first and see if you can get them on sale from Book Outlet!

Be sure to check out the book trailers for these books on the Simon and Schuster Youtube Channel.

History of Fun Stuff Series

Science of Fun Stuff Series

Living In…Wonders of America


Here is a book trailer for one of these fabulous books titled, The Innings and Outs of Baseball!



Posted in Book Reviews

A Little Book with a BIG Message!

On my last trip to the library I sat on the floor (one of the downsides to perusing the children’s section 🙂) and poured through shelf after shelf of children’s books, scooting from one shelf to the next, looking for unfamiliar books that peaked my curiosity.  The one that I thought I would share this evening made me think of my kindergarten friends that are, after 100 days of school, really taking off in their reading.   The book I pulled from the shelf of our little Boonsboro Library was none other than, This is not a picture book by Sergio Ruzier.

This adorable story that starts from the very first page.   In fact if you are reading this book aloud,  be sure to start reading as soon as you open the book.  If you start after the title page you will have missed the opening of the story.  The title page, in fact, is part of the text (how clever)!    This story features a duck who picks up a book full of words…but no pictures.    At first he is outraged and kicks the book, only to quickly apologize and then proceed to read the book along with his little bug friend.  He thinks the words are difficult but soon realizes he knows many of the words and find that some of the words are funny, sad, wild, and peaceful.  In the end he learns that all words, no matter what kind, “carry you away and then bring you home where they stay with you forever.”

After reading this book is would be great have student brainstorm words that are funny, sad, wild, and peaceful and put them on a chart(s) to hang in the classroom to help inspire students when they are writing or reading.  Teachers could also have students talk about the journeys (places) that the books they are reading take them.

In addition to a charming story with a great message this author has paid a lot of attention to detail.  Be sure to take a look at the front and back end papers.  The end papers in front are words that look like gibberish but the back end papers are completely readable (in fact they are the words to the entire story).   This is indeed a little book with a BIG message for our small friends who are learning to read!

Posted in Book Reviews

Hidden Figures (Picture Book)…Four Reasons You Need this Book in your Classroom Library!

I was so excited to see this story released as a picture book for children.  I’ll be completely honest, I first came to love and appreciate this story through the movie that was released in 2017 not by reading the book (gasp…I know it’s terrible that I saw the movie BEFORE reading the book).  Soon after the movie was over (maybe 20 minutes after seeing the movie – LOL),  I purchased the young adult version of the book at my local Target store.

I knew this was a story that needed to be shared with our elementary age students.  We even took all of our fifth graders to see the movie but ever since I have been trying to figure out teach our youngest students this story.  I was delighted, in early 2018 to find that the author’s had crafted this picture book version.

So…what are the 4 reasons that you need to have this book in your classroom library?

  1. It’s about WOMEN in science fields!  Ok, let’s face it, there are not many picture books out there about women in science fields.   This story will delight and inspire the young ladies in your classrooms (even down to grade K or 1).  We have to teach them young that women can excel in fields of science.  At the same time your students will get a quick history of the race to explore space.
  2. It’s about WOMEN doing MATH in science fields!   Math, as most of you know, is near and dear to my heart.    Most elementary students believe that places like NASA only do “science” but in fact science and math go hand in hand.  This story will help students see that math is integral to science and that we really couldn’t understand one without the other!
  3. It’s a story about perseverance!  The Common Core State Standards has 8 mathematical practices.  The first practice talks about students persevering through math.  There are numerous instances in the story where these remarkable women persevere in their jobs.   One of many favorite parts of the story is the line that says, “But Dorothy, Mary, Katherine, and Christine knew one thing:  with hard work, perseverance, and a love of math, anything was possible.”
  4. It’s a story that captures the struggles of Black Americans during the Civil Rights Era. This might be the MOST IMPORTANT reason to own this book.  This story very eloquently and in a simplistic way tells the history of the civil rights era which was such a difficult and important part of our U.S. history.  There are many picture books out there that tell the stories of such influential people such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Ruby Bridges and Rosa Parks.  This book is unique in that many young students will be able to see the civil rights era through the eyes of women they have probably not heard of before and from a different perspective; that of working black women.

It is also important to note that in addition to the wonderful story the author has included a one page biography of each of the 4 women (Dorothy Johnson Vaughan, Mary Winston Jackson, Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson, and Dr. Christine Mann Darden), a timeline of events of the space program, and a glossary of science terms.  These will make for great resources for instruction!

If you have older students, middle high school, be sure to check out the young adult novel of this story as well!

On a side note….teachers at my school (you know who you are) my copy of the book will be available in our Lead Teacher room if you want to borrow it!




Posted in Book Reviews

A MUST have book for Elementary Teachers: “The Word Collector”

Peter H. Reynolds has done it again; created a classic book to teach a powerful lesson – the power of words!  When I spied this book I just knew I would have to own it and add it to my collection!  When the book arrived and I sat down to dive into the text I knew that I wasn’t wrong…this will be a much loved favorite in my library for many years!


This book tells the tale of a young man, Jerome,  who collected words.  Throughout the story you will see all the incredible words he collected that he saw, heard, and read.  The beauty of this story is not just that Jerome collected words but what he learned to do with them; use them to create poems, songs, and then and ultimately to bring joy to others.

In addition to being a delightful and heartwarming tale this book is also beautifully illustrated in classic Reynolds style.  It is wonderful to have another fabulous multicultural book to add to my collection.

This book will be featured in my library along side other great picture books that tell tales of kindness such as these:

If you like this book, be sure to check out these other books by Peter H. Reynolds at Amazon or your favorite book seller!

Watch my video of the reading of the book below to decide if this book needs to be in your collection!  (Try not to be too critical of my video…I’m just an amateur.)