Free Books from ReaderKidZ!

Posted by on Dec 12, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Princess Posey and the Christmas MagicMy recommendation for this week: go to 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,  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!

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Posted by on Nov 21, 2013 in Michigan Author, Non-Fiction | 0 comments

Romelle Broas is a writer who is all about the journey.  She was kind enough to ask me about my long, winding road to publishing my first picture book, and you can check out the details here:

I’m in Kalamazoo at the Michigan Association for Media in Education (MAME) conference, so next week I’ll share some great new websites I’m hearing about!


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Posted by on Nov 14, 2013 in Craft and Structure, Early Learning, Integrating Knowledge and Ideas, Letter / Number Knowledge, Logic Smart, Phonological Awareness, Print Awareness, Print Concepts | 0 comments

wumbers“What do you get when you combine a word with a number? A wumber!” Wumbers  is wri10 by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustr8ed by Tom Lichtenheld, the dynamic duo who made Duck! Rabbit! and other books I love passion8ly. With Wumbers, kids have 2 pay at10tion to the sound of the number word to figure out how to read the wumber. 1ce your students get the gist of it, they’ll want 2 make up wumbers of their own!

Because Wumbers focuses kids’ attention on the small sounds in words, it’s an ideal book to hit the CCSS of Phonological Awareness. Distinguishing the numbers from the letters in the words is part of Print Concepts. 1 book for 2 standards = gr8ful teacher and 4tunate students!

As you read Wumbers to your students, call at10tion first to the way the wumber looks. What number is mixed with letters to make a new word? 1ce students identify the number, say it out loud a few times, then blend the number name with the other letters slowly. Let kids have the thrill of calling out the wumber. It7ly! (Get it – it’s heavenly? Ok, I’m still working on a good one for 7.)

Before you let your students loose on reading and writing wumbers on their own, practice as a group. Choose a number, an easy one like 2 or 4 (because obviously 7 will pose challenges, even for those of us with plenty of wumber po10tial.) Write the number word and any phonological variations: 2 is two, to, too, tu, etc. Now, see if you can come up with words that have that to-tu sound in them.  Tuba becomes 2ba. Toothbrush becomes a 2thbrush. Because she is genius, Amy Krouse Rosenthal has a free activities kit available through her website: If you and your students come up with some 1derful wumbers, email me! 2gether we will celebr8 Wumbers!

For more about the illustrator, please visit

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Free, safe images for students

Posted by on Nov 7, 2013 in Early Learning, Fluency, Integrating Knowledge and Ideas, Key Ideas and Details, Technology | 5 comments

Oscar Meyer WienermobileLet’s imagine that you and your students have gone on a field trip to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan (which, if you can, I highly recommend that you do so because the place is a-ma-zing.) Imagine one of your students wants to write about his favorite part of the trip – seeing the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile. He didn’t take any photos on the trip, so he wants to search for images online to add to his writing. Imagine what might happen if your student uses a typical search engine to look for images of wienermobiles.

Now imagine that you are a highly-prepared, tech-savvy teacher (easy to do, because you so are.) When your students want to add images of a wienermobile, or a titmouse, or any image, you guide them to search on Pics4Learning. It’s safe, it’s free, and the images are copy-right friendly.

Before you open up Pics4Learning, imagine the joy every artist will feel if you give your students a quick lesson on copyright first. Ask your students to imagine that they have worked tirelessly to create a fantastic work of art. Imagine posting a photo of said masterpiece online to share your art with family and friends. Now imagine that some random person online decides to right-click the photo of your masterpiece, copy and paste it, and use your work as if they made it. Imagine the outrage! Now your students may understand how artists feel when their images are copied and taken without any recognition or attribution. Just because you *can* right-click and copy an image doesn’t mean you *should*. Use a site like Pics4Learning instead, and there will be no breaking of copyright issues, or any uncomfortable discussions about when searching for images of blue-footed boobies.

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Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance

Posted by on Oct 31, 2013 in Body Smart, Early Learning, Fluency, Holiday, Phonological Awareness, Rhyming | 0 comments

Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance by Keith GravesHere’s a treat for you this Halloween: a rhyming picture book that will delight your little monsters while you hit the CCSS of Fluency and Phonics & Word Recognition.

Frank was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance by Keith Graves is simple, spooky, silly fun. Frank’s dancing delights the audience until his body parts start to come loose, but even a cold shoulder from the crowd (see what I did there?) can’t diminish Franks’s love of performing.

There are plenty of simple rhymes for early elementary students to catch (“ants in his pants”, etc.) and I love that students can listen to them while they enjoy this story on TumbleBooks. Many school, public, and state libraries have subscriptions to this great website where kids can hear books read aloud. TumbleBooks has picture books, chapter books, fiction and nonfiction, all kinds of titles to help students build fluency. An extra bonus: TumbleBooks also has a section of lesson plans for teachers, including a K-2 lesson plan for Frank was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance!

So read aloud this book to your class, or log into TumbleBooks and project it so the entire class can enjoy it. If your little wigglers are anything like mine, they’ll want to move their bodies like Frank did, so on repeated readings, encourage listeners to act out the text. Kids can mime brains flopping out, arms falling out of sleeves, etc. For Halloween, or for anytime your mini-monsters need an active read-aloud, this book does the trick.

For more about the author/illustrator, please visit:

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Go Ahead and Judge

Posted by on Oct 24, 2013 in Art, Early Learning, Key Ideas and Details, People Smart, Print Concepts | 0 comments

Little Women cover for audio book As I’m weeding the youth collection in my public library, I am finding some gems. I know the old adage is “you can’t judge a book by its cover”, but really? If you had never heard of Little Women before and you saw this audiobook cover, what do you think the story would be about? Something disconcerting and yet intriguing, judging by the glassy-eyed stare of these girls! Little (Zombie) Women!

So this week I’m recommending a simple activity that can be used with many books: redesigning the cover. If your library has some ugly book covers (I know mine has several), ask kids to read the book and make a new cover that shows the main characters in a key plot moment. It’s a great way for kids to demonstrate reading comprehension (those Key Ideas & Details of the Common Core? Got it covered!) and it can be a nice alternative to or an option for a book report.

With new book covers designed by fellow students, those ugly books may have a renewed life, because even if we shouldn’t, we do judge books by their covers.

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Knock, Knock!

Posted by on Oct 10, 2013 in Art, Early Learning, Fluency, Michigan Author, Non-Fiction, Phonological Awareness, Print Concepts, Range of Reading | 0 comments

Knock, Knock! Dial Books for Young ReadersTrent, one of my preschool pals, couldn’t stop giggling as he told me this gem, “So, a horse walks into a bar and the bartender says, ‘Hey, why the long face?’” Kids love good jokes – and they don’t seem to mind the bad jokes, either! Joke books are perfect for early and reluctant readers because:

1. Jokes are short.

2. You can flip through pages instead of reading sequentially so the thick books aren’t intimidating.

3. Humor makes them intrinsically motivating.

4. With “knock, knock” jokes, kids can already read some of the most important words (and you can use them for a great mini-lesson on those letter-sound combos of kn and wh.)

5. Joke books build Fluency and hit Range of Reading (two CCSS with one stone!)

My latest favorite joke book is Knock, Knock! illustrated by fourteen artists and published by Dial Books for Young Readers. Each artist chose a different “knock, knock” joke to illustrate. The repetition of words like “knock, knock” and “who’s there” plus the clues from the art make this book one most kids can read successfully, especially if you read it aloud first and let students guess what the punchlines to the jokes will be.

Rereading joke books in order to learn the jokes for future telling is probably the most fun way to build reading fluency. Make Knock, Knock! and other joke books available during choice reading time, then give your budding comedians a set time to tell jokes. This can be a one-time laugh-fest, or an ongoing event in your classroom. I liked to claim the end of the day as “Open Mike Time”. If students could gather their belongings and prepare for departure quickly, we’d have time for an “open mike” session where kids could come to the front of the room and tell a joke. This encouraged kids to get ready without dawdling, and for those who liked joking all day long, I could say, “Suzy, we won’t have time for Open Mike if we don’t use this time wisely.” Suddenly, being a class clown (at the appropriate time) is a good thing!


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