Monday, December 18, 2017

Dream Big Dreams

Dream Big Dreams: Photographs from Barack Obama's Inspiring and Historic Presidency
by Pete Souza
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2017

Inspirational is the best word for this book.

The introduction explains the job of Official White House Photographer. The table of contents say as much as the photos and their captions about our 44th President:
Be Kind and Respectful
Work Hard
Make Time for Family
Show Compassion
Have Fun
Dream Big Dreams
Would that we all lived lives that could be outlined with those topics.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Poetry Friday -- My Heart Is So Full

Unsplash photo by Tim Marshall

My heart is so full. This Poetry Friday community is a wonder of the modern world. We've been at this (some of us) since 2006. That's more than 120 roundups, countless comments, and, recently, an upwelling of friendly challenges and exchanges.

Which brings me to the Winter Poem Swap, offered and organized by Tabatha (The Opposite of Indifference).

My heart is so full. There was much joy in digging into another's blog for inspiration, then creating a poem/gift combo that was just right for her.

And then I got my gift from Linda Mitchell (A Word Edgewise), and my heart ran over. Linda wrote not one, but FOUR poems all stemming from my November Poetry Friday post in which I "poemized" the words of Seth Godin. She took the theme of "maps" and ran with it, writing a response to that Seth Godin post, a found haiku from Ted Kooser's "Map of the World" (which was shared that same week by Little Willow), a ditty written at an AASL workshop, and, my favorite, an echo to Jane Yolen's "Always A Poem." Accompanying the poems was a hand-decorated map-themed clipboard that is going to school with me to remind me to keep the compass of my heart set to the True North of friendship, creativity, thoughtfulness, and joy that Linda's gift exemplifies.

An Always Poem

Again winter follows fall,
stick arms of trees wave
furiously, turning our clocks.

Again a freeze follows fall,
crystals bloom in weak light
leaving a mess of our map.

Again stillness follows fall,
we seek direction,
home at every compass point.

Again dark follows fall.
A chair, a fire, story warms
despite a season that strips bare.

Again follows
fall, a winter.

by Linda Mitchell, ©2017

Diane has this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Random Noodling.

May 18 is still available on the Jan-June 2018 Roundup Schedule. Thanks to all who have taken a slot!

I'm only halfway through commenting on last week's roundup, but I vow to complete that round before beginning this week's! While we're on the subject of not keeping up, I am on track with #haikuforhealing on Twitter, but I still need to fancy up a week's worth over at Poetrepository.

On the subject of commenting: I've tried to figure out what's causing your comments to disappear. The best I can tell is that for some reason, our blog continues to load long after you arrive at the page and even though everything appears to have loaded. If you stop the loading, I think that will prevent the comment drops. I think. Those of you who have re-commented multiple times, thanks for persevering.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Poetry Friday -- Pomegranates

This is one of my favorite #haikuforhealing for the week, and I thought it would make a perfect visual for our Tumblr Roundup Host, Lisa at Steps and Staircases. Don't be afraid to submit your link. It's really easy! Click on "SUBMIT" at the top of the post and you'll get what looks like a comment form. Give it a title, put in your name and email. Drop your link in the box. It's moderated, so Lisa will harvest out your link and add you to the roundup. You can't mess up! Go for it!

The Roundup Schedule for January - June 2018 is nearly complete. Would you like to snag THE LAST slot? May 18 is still available!!

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Poetry Friday -- Call for Roundup Hosts

It's that time again. Six months have passed since last we queued up to host the Poetry Friday roundups.

If you'd like to host a roundup between January and June 2018, leave your choice(s) of date(s) in the comments. I'll update regularly to make it easier to see which dates have been claimed.

What is the Poetry Friday roundup? A gathering of links to posts featuring original or shared poems, or reviews of poetry books. A carnival of poetry posts. Here is an explanation that Rene LaTulippe shared on her blog, No Water River, and here is an article Susan Thomsen wrote for the Poetry Foundation.

Who can do the Poetry Friday roundup? Anyone who is willing to gather the links in some way, shape or form (Mr. Linky, "old school" in the comments-->annotated in the post, or ???) on the Friday of your choice. If you are new to the Poetry Friday community, jump right in, but perhaps choose a date later on so that we can spend some time getting to know each other.

How do you do a Poetry Friday roundup? If you're not sure, stick around for a couple of weeks and watch...and learn! One thing we're finding out is that folks who schedule their posts, or who live in a different time zone than you, appreciate it when the roundup post goes live sometime on Thursday.

How do I get the code for the PF Roundup Schedule for the sidebar of my blog? You can grab the list from the sidebar here at A Year of Reading, or I'd be happy to send it to you if you leave me your email address. You can always find the schedule on the Kidlitosphere Central webpage.

Why would I do a Poetry Friday Roundup? Community, community, community. It's like hosting a poetry party on your blog!

And now for the where and when:

5    Catherine at Reading to the Core
12  Jan at Bookseedstudio
26  Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink

2    Donna at Mainely Write
9    Sally at
16  Jone at Check it Out

2    Renee at No Water River
9    Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
16  Linda at TeacherDance

6    Amy at The Poem Farm
27  Irene at Live Your Poem

4    Linda at Write Time
11  Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup
25  Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

1    Buffy at Buffy's Blog
8    Kiesha at Whispers from the Ridge
15  Karen at Karen Edmisten*
22  Michelle at Michelle Kogan
29  Carol at Carol's Corner

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Poetry Friday -- The Roundup is Here!

Flickr Creative Commons Photo

boiling water
tea leaves understand

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Welcome to the Poetry Friday Roundup! Have a cup of tea and relax. Leave the madness of the world behind for a few minutes while you peruse the offerings in the roundup. My poem today is a pre December-Haiku-a-Day #haikuforhealing from this past week.

A note about next week's roundup. Lisa at Steps and Staircases will be hosting the roundup. Her blogging platform is Tumblr. She shares this information: 
"Hello poetry friends! The topic/prompt I want to suggest for the December 8 Poetry Friday Roundup is either/and: Respond to "When Life Gives You Lemons..." or write a poem using an object/making a drawing, as Amy Krouse Rosenthal did with a lemon drop. (picture below) If your poem can be expressed visually through a picture or drawing -- like Amy Krouse Rosenthal's "When Life Gives You Lemon Drops"-- I would love to post everyone's visuals. No matter what/how you choose to express yourself, I wanted to share Amy's Lemon Drop poem and her Instagram Project 1,2,3. This is only a suggestion. I look forward to reading all of your submissions!"

When participants go to Lisa's Tumblr space, they should click the "SUBMIT" button at the top of the page to leave their link or their visual. Thanks for being flexible with a different kind of roundup next week.

Also, watch for the Call for Roundup Hosts post, which goes live tomorrow, 12/2. It's time to gather hosts for January - July 2018!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Charlotte Huck Award

The winner of the 2017 NCTE Charlotte Huck Award® is

by Dan Santat
Roaring Brook Press, 2017

The NCTE Charlotte Huck Award® for Outstanding Fiction for Children was established in 2014 to promote and recognize excellence in the writing of fiction for children. This award recognizes fiction that has the potential to transform children’s lives by inviting compassion, imagination, and wonder.

This picture book will resonate with all ages. On the back of the book, we are reminded that "Life begins when you get back up." Santat's epilogue of the rather unsatisfying nursery rhyme about an egg that falls down and gets patched up is all kinds of brilliant. My 5th graders gasped aloud at the ending. They were like, "Wait. WHAT?!?!" This book will change your thinking about Humpty Dumpty and it will remind everyone that we shouldn't let our setbacks keep us down.

I am currently serving on the NCTE Charlotte Huck Award Committee. In our deliberations at NCTE this year, narrowing our list of 45 books down to one winner, five honor books, and eight recommended books, we kept coming back to the award criteria as we deliberated over each book. "The potential to transform children's lives" was a phrase we used over and over again when we spoke about this book. Don't miss it. It's an amazing book.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Poetry Friday

Unsplash photo by Autumn Mott

early morning walk
constant chatter of leaf-fall
first hard frost

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

I'm gearing up for another Haiku-a-Day in December. I'll be tweeting my haiku using last year's #haikuforhealing if you'd like to join in. 

Although #haikuforhealing was born as a reaction to last year's current events, this year's iteration, at least for me, will be an acknowledgement of the absolute necessity of a creative life and a reclaiming of the discipline found in daily writing. I'm hoping #haikuforhealing helps me focus on moments and slows me down to a more livable pace.

Carol at Carol's Corner has the Poetry Friday roundup this week.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Rock, Paper, Scissors

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors
by Drew Daywalt
illustrated by Adam Rex
Balzer + Bray, 2017

First of all, this is the most fun read aloud ever. (Fun for both reader and audience.)

Second, in the aftermath of reading it aloud, this happened: Pearl, Shark, Bomb. (Pearl beats Shark by choking him when swallowed, Shark defuses Bomb under water, and Bomb blows up Pearl.)

And last, I give you this episode of The Big Bang Theory:

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Blog Break -- NCTE

Both of us will be just a tad busy this coming week at NCTE, so we won't be blogging. We hope to connect with many blog readers, Poetry Friday Peeps, and Twitter followers at NCTE!

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Poetry Friday -- If Truth Be Told

Unsplash photo by Charles Deluvio

I'm the type
who'd rather have dumplings
than blossoms

Issa, 1814

Unsplash photo by nabil boukala

I'm the type
who'd rather have breakfast
than cocktails

Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

I'm the type
who'd rather have sunflowers
than roses

Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

I'm the type
who'd rather have bikeways
than freeways

Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

I couldn't resist using Issa's haiku as a mentor text. It's so unlike any other Issa haiku that I've received in my email inbox via Daily Issa. 

What type are you? What can you learn about yourself through your "rather haves?"

And how perfect is it that Jama, author of DUMPLING SOUP, is our Poetry Friday hostess today? Head over to Jama's Alphabet Soup and check out the drool-worthy doughnuts and accompanying poem.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Slices of Life

SLICES OF LIFE, by Grant Snider

...for the rest of this visual poem, click here.

Wouldn't it be fun to give students the verbs Snider uses, have them create a visual poem, and then compare their creations to his?

Maybe we need to try it first...

Monday, November 06, 2017

You WILL Like These Two Books!

I (Don't) Like Snakes
by Nicola Davies
Illustrated by Luciano Lozano
Candlewick Press, 2015

The little girl doesn't like snakes, and her family tries valiantly to convince her otherwise.

Give Bees a Chance
by Bethany Barton
Viking Books for Young Readers, 2017

The narrator and his (?) friend Edgar like all the same things...except for bees. The narrator convinces Edgar (and readers) of the importance of bees.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Poetry Friday -- Maps and Compasses

The Thing About Maps
words by Seth Godinpoemizing by Mary Lee Hahn

Sometimes, when we're lost, 
we refuse a map, 
even when offered.

Because the map reminds us that we made a mistake. 
That we were wrong.

But without a map, 
we're not just wrong, 
we're also still lost.

A map doesn't automatically get you home, 
but it will probably make you less lost.

When dealing with the unknown, 
it's difficult to admit that there might not be a map. 
In those cases, 
a compass is essential, 
a way to remind yourself of your 
true north.

by Hugh MacLeod

I love it when the Universe chats with me.

We began our geography work in social studies recently. When this bit by Seth Godin showed up in my inbox, I knew I wanted to share it with my students. The fun thing (ONE of the fun things) about 5th graders is that they are beginning to be able to think abstractly and symbolically. Lots of them got the symbolism and message in The Thing About Maps. Then, a day later, the Gaping Void cartoon landed in my inbox. I have a couple of strong girls who are negotiating the tricky line between bossy and assertive. The cartoon was a good reminder of the qualities of a positive leader. We talked about our personal compasses, our very own "true north"s. 

Hopefully, you will find your way to TeacherDance, where Linda has the Poetry Friday roundup for today!

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Great Dads

Two books with great dads who both understand and validate the fears of their children.

Lily's Cat Mask
by Julie Fortenberry
Viking Books for Young Readers, 2017

Dad and the Dinosaur
by Gennifer Choldenko
illustrated by Dan Santat
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, 2017

Monday, October 30, 2017


One of my students was on a picture book reading binge. She brought me The Pencil, by Allan Ahlberg and suggested it for #classroombookaday. In the story (which another student thought had the feel of a religious creation story) nothing exists but a pencil. Then the pencil draws the world into existence. Things start getting out of hand, so the pencil draws an eraser. Even that doesn't work, so the pencil draws another eraser and they annihilate each other (Noah's Ark, anyone?). The pencil starts over. Carefully.

While we were on the subject of erasers, I had to read my favorite eraser book, The Eraserheads by Kate Banks. These erasers come to life and have adventures. Are the eraserheads alive for real, or just in the imagination of the boy? You decide.

I had just read The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken, and it seemed like the perfect next read. In it, the creator, in the course of drawing, makes mistakes and then makes the mistakes into something wanted. Total surprise ending in this one. It will blow your mind.

The fourth book in this set is one I put out for students to pore over and ponder on their own because it's wordless -- Lines by Suzy Lee. In this book, the lines are made by the blades of an ice skater's skates.

Then, surprise of surprises, this weekend I read Sam & Eva by Debbie Ridpath Ohi. Two children (are they drawing on the walls?!?!) can't agree on what to draw. Then, their drawings pick up on the escalating disagreement and things really start to get out of hand. Literally. The two children draw an escape and start over -- each offering an olive branch to the other.

There's something quite magical about the connections between books!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Poetry Friday -- Mentor Texts

You've heard about it, you've marked it "To Read" in GoodReads, maybe you've even ordered it and have it on your stack. Move it to the top of your stack, make some time, and dig in! Once I started reading, I was hooked. I wanted to keep reading, but more than that, I was anxious to start writing and try some of her ideas with my classroom of writers.

With a short week this week, I decided to ease my writers into informational writing with some of the strategies from Poems are Teachers, and definitely by using the mentor text poems (one from a professional poet and two from students accompany each section). My goal was for them to develop fluency in generating ideas and drafts, and to show them that a minimal amount of "research" is needed in order to jot a draft. I was also hoping that all of our work thus far in the year with "Unpacking Poems" (hat tip to Tara for the idea) would evidence itself in the students' poems...and it DID! Alliteration, similes, thoughtful stanzas, repetition, and more! Finally, a future goal is that my students will transfer both the fluency of ideas and drafting, as well as the use of rich and creative language to their informational writing. Once you dig in and start reading Amy's book, you'll see how your students' work writing poetry will do what the subtitle says and "Strengthen Writing in All Genres."

On the first day, I spread my "Activists and Trail Blazers" shelf of picture book biographies on the meeting area carpet. We browsed the books, jotting notes about what we read, about what we noticed in the illustrations, or about connections we were making. Midway through our time, we looked at the mentor poems in the section "Listen to History" (p. 18 and 21) and I sent students off to try a draft. Here are a couple of the more polished first draft poems and the book that inspired each poem:

"In America, You Can Achieve Anything"

Discrimination is "whites only."
Discrimination is no prom.
Discrimination is closed doors.
Discrimination is skin deep.

Honor is head held high.
Honor is good grades.
Honor is medical school.
Honor is Olympic gold.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Try Hard

Two trainers one passion
Try hard
Train hard

Stolen bike
Fight for rights
Try hard

Try to fight
Rare in light
Try hard

©M., 2017

MLK's Dream Day

Not everyone is treated the same.
Not everyone had the same things we have now.
Who is to blame?

One man stepped forward.
On August 18, 1963,
he said his famous speech
"I have a dream."

©J., 2017

On the second day, we tried the same thing, but I put out a shelf full of animal books from my nature nonfiction section. The mentor poems in Amy's book were from the "Find Ideas in Science" section (p. 32 and 35). Here are a few more first drafts and the books that inspired them. You can probably tell that writing a mask poem was one of the suggestions!

Creepy Crawlers

I have 8 eyes
I can be small
I can be big

I can crawl
Jump and bite

I love bugs
I have more than
One leg or two or three

What can I be?
What am I?

(jumping spider)

©A., 2017

Hello, my little prey!
I see you came to the luminous light.

But you shouldn't have.

As the people say,
"Don't go to the light."

I can be 1 or 2 or 3, *
but can you guess me?

Who am I?


©M., 2017

*"Smaller males join their bodies to mine, latching on with their teeth until their skin fuses into mine. I eat for all of us, sharing the nutrients from my bloodstream."

Mr. Tree

I, Mr. Tree, have been here
longer than you, I've been here longer
than your mother and father.

I, Mr. Tree, give you oxygen
and in return you give me water and food.
I will help you until I go TIMBER!!

I, Mr. Tree, live in your back yard
with Miss Flower and Sir Grass.

I, Mr. Tree, am still here as a seedling
after I pass on.

©H., 2017

(H's poem shows that your writing might wind up taking you in a very different direction than you expected!)

Brenda has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at Friendly Fairy Tales.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Literacy Connection: Words of Wisdom from Pam Allyn

The Literacy Connection events are always two of my favorite days of the year.  Last week, we were lucky to learn with Pam Allyn and it was an amazing day!  So much that I have been thinking about all week.  And such an amazing group of people to learn with!

At the end of the day, all of us full of great energy!
Pam left us with lots of wisdom and the following is a list of things I wrote down that I wanted to think more about. So much positive energy and hope and belief that we can make good things happen for our students.  I thought I'd share these wise words from Pam with you.

You get to know going to sleep at night that you did something.

Busy People get things done.

Open yourself to the potential that’s in you for the work.
All of us can be better.
The thing about literacy is how urgent it is.

All of my work is about a sense of hope.

Literacy is the foundational goal of all goals.

At the end of the day, we have a lot more power than we think.

Much harder to turn a 15 year old than it is to turn a 5 year old.

Let’s think about what we can do to make us.

We can make something happen. We don’t have to wait.

We do have a lot of evidence for what really works. But sometimes we don’t really believe it.

All the research shows us that independent reading where kids get to make choices is a key part of success and will improve test scores.

Deficit language is really hard for kids to get over.

We were so lucky to have Pam with us for a day last week. In April we'll have Ernest join us to close out the year. (You can register to hear Ernest at The Literacy Connection's website.  As part of our yearlong study this year, we are reading the book that Pam wrote with Ernest Morrell, Every Reader a Super Reader. It is an incredible book that I highly recommend. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Poetry Friday -- WonderFALL

by Michael Hall
Greenwillow, 2016

Brightly colored trees? Check.
Clear blue skies and comfortable temperatures? Check.
Arkansas Blacks available from Ochs' Fruit Farm at the Farmers Market? Check.
Fall comic from Incidental Comics? Check.
27/29 parent conferences completed? Check.
First formal observation in the books? Check.
Science test graded and returned? Check.
Ready to welcome 30th student to the class next week? Check.
Even more ready to enjoy a four-day Fall Break? Check, check, CHECK!

And what better way to welcome Fall and a bit of a break than with a few selections from Michael Hall's WonderFALL.

An oak tree is the speaker in these poems:


A gentle
breeze is

I hear



ready to



all around.

And look
(rustle, rustle) --
I'm dressed
for the

I hope your fall is treating you well (or spring, as the case may be in the Southern Hemisphere)! Join Leigh Ann at A Day in the Life for this week's Poetry Friday Roundup!

Monday, October 16, 2017

New Books from Weekend with The Literacy Connection Part 2

Of course Beth from Selections Books had SOOOO many books that were new-to-me. I try to keep up with new books and I count on Beth to share the best new that there is when I see her. She had some great new nonfiction that I know my kids will love.  Here is what I bought:

Trickiest: 19 Sneaky Animals by Steve Jenkins (There is a partner book to this called Deadliest!)

Penguins vs. Puffins, by Julie Beer, a National Geographic Kids title--For kids who love The Who Would Win series, this is a great ladder for them.

Song of the Wild: A First Book of Animals by Nicola Davies--The writing in this book is incredible and will be part of many mini lessons I imagine.

50 Cities of the U.S.A. by Gabrielle Balkin and Sol Linero--so much on every page and not all capital cities--a different way to look at US cities I think!

These all seem perfect for 5th graders!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

New Books from Weekend with Literacy Connection Part 1

We had a great weekend with Pam Allyn at our Fall Literacy Connection event. More on that in another blog post. But when you are around so many great book people and when Beth of Selections Books brings a bazillion books to sell, you find new books to read! September and October are never my best reading months. With all that happens in the fall in the classroom, I don't usually find much time to read. But I did pick up several books that I hope to read soon (unless my kids grab them and I can't get them back!). Here are some that I picked up that I am excited to read soon!

Pam Allyn (and several members of the audience) mentioned this adult fiction book--Eleanor Elephant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I don't fit in much adult fiction but I love it and after hearing Pam and others talk, I ordered it right away. Thanks Pam and Stella!

Two middle grade novels that were suggested as strong 2017 titles (I'll share these with Mock Newbery Club members if they aren't already on our list) were Pablo and Birdy by Alison McGhee and Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling. Thanks Brian and Mary Lee!

And I always love new fairy tales so I picked up Snow and Rose by Emily Winfield Martin and Brave Red, Smart Frog: A New Book of Old Tales by Emily Jenkins.

I also picked up a new book by an Ohio author that Beth said my students would love.  It is called Things That Surprise You by Jennifer Maschari and it sounds fabulous! Thanks, Beth!