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 Reading

It’s Not a Stack of Books….it’s a Poem!

One of my favorite picture books is the a short and simple story titled, It’s Not a Box, by Antoinette Portis.  The premise is that a simple box could be anything within your imagination!  This past week our leadership team challenged our staff think “outside the box” to engage kids and “make a difference” in our last few days of school!

As our teachers filtered into our professional development we had 5 stations set up of activities to engage and stimulate their brains!  One of those stations was to create a Book Stack Poem.  We brought 3 crates of picture books and novels out and scattered them across the table.   Teachers were challenged to stack the books so that the titles on the spines created a poem.  They could use 2 or more titles.

Our very own, uber creative, paraprofessional Dottie Gruhler created the poem below.

Can you what I see?
May B
The most magnificent thing
We’re all wonders!

Our fantastically fabulous fourth grade teacher, Lauren Wharton, created this short but, oh so meaningful short stack to express her thoughts:

Out of my mind,
Absolutely truly!

(Side note…this made me giggle AND these are two of my very favorite books!!!)

Ms. Wharton decided that her students would LOVE putting together their own Book Stack Poems and since her library was already in a bit of a disarray they could make their poems and then reorganize their classroom library just before the school year ends so that it is all back in place for incoming fourth graders next fall!  

Poems can often be intimidating for both students and adults to write.  With book stack poems the words are already there, you just have to craft the order to make your own poem.  For our staff it seemed to make it seem less overwhelming.  Not only did our teachers enjoy the challenge of creating a meaningful poem but, many were found books that they had not seen before and they were excited to borrow them for lessons.

If you have your students create Book Stack Poetry be sure to post them on twitter and tag me at @brandeli1974 and use the hashtag #bookstackpoems !

So in your last few days of school, I hope you are able to engage your students and think outside the box.  I would love to hear some of the fabulous things you are doing to make the most of your last few precious days of the school year!