It’s September, the start of a new school year. I have no apples for you teachers, but I do have the perfect back-to-school picture book to teach empathy and point of view: I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien.
Maria, Jin, and Fatimah are new to their schools and to the United States. Through their stories, we get a glimpse of what it’s like to hear a new language, to see a new alphabet, and to try to pick up a new set of classroom expectations. “Back home… I knew just what to do.” All of your students can relate to the unsettled feeling of a first day in a new classroom. With I’m New Here, you can expand upon that feeling to help your students empathize with people who are new to our country. I love that Anne Sibley O’Brien not only shows what it’s like to be an immigrant, but how we all learn from each other. On one page, O’Brien writes from Jin’s point of view, “I am learning from others. And they are learning from me.” Jin asks a little boy, “How to spell cloud?” The boy responds, “C-L-O-U-D.” Jin holds up a piece of paper with Korean characters on it. “This is cloud in Korean.” “Cool.”
Michelle A., a gifted kindergarten teacher of English as a Second Language students and a remarkable friend, told me about Step Inside thinking. After you’ve read through the book, ask your students to “step inside” a character and imagine that they are Maria, Jin, or Fatimah. Students can write and draw from the perspective of the character, describing what was a challenge and what helped. You can turn this book into a readers’ theater script for students to perform, or have students take on the roles in an impromptu performance as you reread the book. As a class, you can talk and write about what you all can do to help a new student feel welcome. Whether or not you gain a new student during the year, all of your students will gain a wider, more empathetic perspective from I’m New Here.Read More
Happy March, everyone! This month I’m sharing a terrific informational picture book about humpback whales and a fabulous, free activity guide that will have your students up and moving as they process information. For those Nature Smart students who’re fighting the winter blahs, this kind of reading will be especially meaningful.
Here Come the Humpbacks! written by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Jamie Hogan is a nonfiction book detailing the migration of a humpback whale calf. Sayre gives us all the excitement of the treacherous journey that spans over 1,500 miles and doesn’t skimp on rich vocabulary or solid information.
After reading the book, your students can review what they’ve learned and “act out” the migration of a humpback. (Go, Key Ideas & Details!) Curious City has a wonderful, free humpback migration game you can download with step-by-step instructions and printables for 10 stations for students to visit. To add another layer of fun, go to YouTube and let kids hear the sounds that humpback whales make. (For more information about Curious City and its free children’s book engagement materials as well as book giveaways, please visit: curiouscitydpw.com. You’ll thank me later.)
I’ll be in New Jersey in April giving a seminar on early literacy skills for preschoolers and kindergartners. Please keep your fingers crossed that we’ll be enjoying tulip blossoms and not ice storms!
For more information about the author, please visit: aprilsayre.com.
For more information about the illustrator, please visit: jamiehogan.com
My recommendation for this week: go to ReaderKidZ.com where you can enter to win free books like Princess Posey and the Christmas Magic written by Stephanie Greene and illustrated by Stephanie Roth Sisson! December is Free Book Give-away Month on ReaderKidZ.com, a wonderful free website with resources, book suggestions and ideas to foster a love of reading in kids, K-5. I’m a regular contributor to the ReaderKidZ Librarian’s Corner, and I use this site all the time when I need new book recommendations and ideas.
If you’re wondering why I’ve been so quiet these past few weeks (and quiet from me does cause most people to wonder), it’s because my sweet husband has been in and out of the hospital with a heart condition. Spending Thanksgiving in the hospital made me realize just how thankful I am for so many blessings in my life. If you are reading this newsletter or this post, please know that I am very grateful for you!Read More
Next week I am speaking to a group of elementary teachers about writing and publishing. It’s my first gig speaking as an author to a group of adults. I am 1/3 nervous, 1/3 excited, 1/6 fearful that I will be revealed as an imposter, and the leftover bits feel like I’ve been preparing for this for a long time.
And, according to the ancient documents I found while moving, I have been preparing for my place in the book world since at least second grade. The lesson here is to encourage your students’ passions because it may be the path of a future career. Tell students to save their work so they can look back one day on who they used to be. And most importantly, teach students to write daily affirmations like “I have a nice complexion.” These will come in handy during the tough teen years.Read More