Raindrops Roll

Raindrops Roll 

by April Pulley Sayre

Beach Lane Books, 2015

A beautifully photographed, poetic look at rain – what it does and where it lands and how we see it. Simple, gorgeous science,

It thuds.
Makes mud.
It fills.
It spills.

Today at Shelf-employed, I’m featuring a Picture Book Roundup including Raindrops Roll and other new favorites.  Please stop by.  You can follow me @shelfemployed on Twitter.

Copyright © 2015 L. Taylor All Rights Reserved.

Football (Fantastic Sports Facts)

Football (Fantastic Sports Facts)
by Michael Hurley (Author)

Booktalk: Discover some of the most fascinating and unusual facts about the sport.

Fun Fact
The Super Bowl was nearly named “The Big One.”

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

See more booktalks at the Booktalking #kidlit blog.

Copyright © 2015 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.
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Emmanuel’s Dream

Emmanuel’s Dream

written by Laurie Ann Thompson; illustrated by Sean Qualls

2015 (Schwartz and Wade Books)

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

Emmanuel was born with only one strong leg. His father left, but his mother stayed strong. Mama Comfort pushed Emmanuel to be independent.  When he became too heavy for his mother to carry him, Emmanuel hopped to school on one leg two miles each way every day. Is it possible to be uplifted and have your heart break at the same time? I wondered that as I read that page. Emmanuel continued pushing forward. Unfortunately, perhaps his biggest obstacle came when Mama Comfort was so sick that she could not work any longer. Emmanuel, at age 13, left his mother and siblings to find work in the city of Accra which was 150 miles away. He eventually found work and was sending money home when word came that Mama Comfort was dying. As he was by her bedside, she told Emmanuel, “Be respectful, take care of your family, don’t ever beg. And don’t ever give up.” The next morning, Christmas Day, she passed away. Emmanuel used this tragedy to spur his dream. He procured a bike and other equipment from an American foundation. He rode his bicycle nearly 400 miles around his home country of Ghana. During this journey, he spread his message of respect for people with disabilities.

Unbelievable! This guy could have given up several times during his life but he just kept pushing and pushing. Emmanuel is inspiring. He spurs you to want to take action. Emmanuel’s Dream will be perfect for our wax museum biography project. I can already see a student with a bike and a tri-fold board talking to visitors. This book is also great for teaching character and about character traits. Who would be better for talking about determination? I would definitely recommend Emmanuel’s Dream to school counselors and classroom teachers.

Here is the link to the curriculum guide for Emmanuel’s Dream:  http://www.scribd.com/doc/251881365/Emmanuel-s-Dream-Curriculum-Guide#scribd

Check out more stuff at NC Teacher Stuff: http://ncteacherstuff.blogspot.com

Creative Cartography

mapsGeography Goodness for Kids (…or adults)

The book I chose to create a lesson for this week is
Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska


*Unique approach to topics (world maps & cultures) that have been covered a zillion times before.
*It made me want to research more! Enough tidbits that I really think everyone [kids and adults alike] could find something interesting. Food? History? Wildlife? Check, check, check!
*Connects geography to culture so both become more understandable and meaningful.


Common Core Connection

What a great bridge between picture books and non-fiction books! Here are maps that are illustrated in the same way a picture book would be, but provide factual information in a format (map) that students need to be exposed to!

RI.3.7, RI.4.7: Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).

To hit these standards [RI.3.9, RI.4.9, RI.5.9: Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably], compare two (or three or four!) maps of the same location.

*Why did one cartographer choose to include certain things and exclude others?

*Could you create a map that integrates the most important aspects of the location for a tourist? For a hiker?

*Write a summary of the location using information gained from multiple maps

Geography + Research Starter

I want to use this text as a jumping off point for a mini-research project. The pre-research activity is below. This part will kind of serve as the “K” (know) and the “W” (want to know) to a KWL. After my students fill out the questions and predictions based on “Maps,” I’ll provide more specific materials on the country they are interested in.

For the pre-research activity, head on over to www.LessonBungalow.com!

When a statue has a biography


STONE GIANT by Jane Sutcliffe is a picture book biography of a statue: David by Michelangelo. The city of Florence had a huge block of marble everyone hoped a sculpture could make into a statue of David but no sculptor would take on the challenge, until Michelangelo. And it was a challenge.

Sample: “Every night he went home floured with the dust of not-David. He combed bits of not-David from his beard.”

Jane has thoughtfully provided a teacher resource for this book http://www.janesutcliffe.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/teachers-guide_stone-giant.pdf

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2014 Deborah Amadei All Rights Reserved. Site Meter


Monday Morning Miscellany

Some news to start your week:

The Cybils Awards have entered Round 2. The first round panelists did a great job in winnowing the field down to the seven finalists listed below for Nonfiction in Early and Middle Grades. A winner will be announced on February 14, 2015.  I can’t discuss deliberations (I’m a Round 2 judge), but you are free to comment on your favorites. 🙂


  • Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain by Russell Freedman
  • Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cat by Sy Montgomery
  • Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart
  • Handle With Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey by Loree Griffin Burns
  • Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh
  • The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle
  • When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses by Rebecca L. Johnson
In December, the Great Websites for Kids Committee announced the newest sites to be added. (Press release here)
If you’ve never taken advantage of this great resource, I urge you to check out Great Websites for Kids at http://gws.ala.org/.
The site is continually updated with new sites added and outdated sites deleted. Suggestions and comments are always welcome.

And last but not least,

This year will mark the fifth anniversary of the KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month celebration.  Each year, fellow librarian, Margo Tanenbaum and I, gather writers, illustrators, librarians and bloggers to highlight, celebrate, and raise awareness of great books for young people that focus on women’s history.  This year’s celebration kicks off  March 1. Please, stay in touch with us and support the inclusion of women’s history in books for young readers! Please, follow our blog, KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month, and you can also find us on Twitter @kidlitwhm, Facebook, and Pinterest.
   Have a great week!  Let it start with a reminder from MLKDay.gov,

“Life’s most persistent question is: What are you doing for others?” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


See this and all of my posts at Shelf-employed, or follow me on Twitter@shelfemployed.

Copyright © 2015 L Taylor All Rights Reserved.


Sneaker Century


Keyser, Amber J. Sneaker Century: A History of Athletic Shoes

January 1st 2015 by Twenty-First Century Books (CT)

E ARC from Netgalley.com

Read more middle grade reviews at http://msyinglingreads.blogspot.com/

I am always looking for interesting nonfiction for my students, and my own favorite topic to read about is anything having to do with popular culture. What better than a 64 page overview of athletic shoes? This is really the best treatment I have seen, starting with ancient shoes found by archaeologists and going from there! There is just enough detail about topics such as Chuck Taylor being a basketball players and shoe salesman, the genesis of most of the modern shoe companies, and the evolution of running shoes from Adi Dassler’s shoes used by Olympic hopefuls to the proliferation of shoes today. Even “sneakerheads”, people who collect limited edition shoes, are covered. It makes me feel tremendously old to know that the modern running shoe evolved during my lifetime– I remember being told in elementary school that any athletic shoes used for gym class needed to be able to be bent in half so the heel touched the toe. That’s when Keds were the shoe of choice, and fancy kicks were only worn by elite athletes. I do wish a little more information about the Keds and Saucony companies had been given, since they have been around for so long. Still, a must purchase for middle school libraries.


Because They Marched – MLK and Voter’s Rights

Because they MarchedBecause they Marched: The People’s Campaign for Voting Rights that Changed America
by Russell Freedman
96 pages; ages 10 & up
Holiday House, 2014

If you are looking for a book to read this week, then put this one in your book bag. The photos and stories will take you back 50 years to the Selma march. In fact, the book begins with a story of the day the teachers marched – January 22… only a few days from now. It was a scary decision for them, because marching for the right to vote could mean losing their jobs. But they had to stand up for right, and stand up for their student’s futures.

If you listen to the news, you know that some states are making all kinds of rules about what people need to do to vote: have drivers licenses, or special voter ID’s. Those rules, they say, will keep “illegal” people from voting – people who aren’t citizens. But if you live in a rural area, the drive to a state office where you can get those IDs could be a long one. And there’s usually no public transportation. And if you are poor, then you might not even be able to drive. So the rules end up hurting many people who are citizens, depriving them of their right to vote for congressmen and the president.

Back in the 50s and early 60s there were a number of obstacles to voting as well – but they were intended to prevent black American citizens from voting. Obstacles like requiring a reading test, or cutting office hours to only a couple days a week for limited time.

Eventually the protests culminated in a people’s march from Selma to the capital of Alabama, Montgomery. People flooded in from across the country, and Martin Luther King, Jr. led the march. Or marches – because it took three tries. Finally, on March 25 the marchers arrived after walking 54 miles, to be greeted by 25,000 supporters. A long walk may not sound very exciting – especially in the rain and cold – but this march put the spotlight on injustice and paved the way to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It was a great achievement.

Unfortunately, voter ID laws created by states over the past couple years are undermining the progress this country made to ensure that every citizen born in this country, regardless of gender or skin color or religion, has a say in how we govern ourselves. This is an important book not only because of the past history, but also because of the time in which we find ourselves.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2015 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved. Site Meter

“Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes” by Nicola Davies

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes

by Nicola Davies Illustrated by Emily Sutton
Published: August 24, 2014
Ms. Davies makes the (sometimes daunting) world of microbes very manageable in this introduction suitable for any age group. Ms. Sutton’s illustrations make the invisible world of microbes come alive.  The book covers  the basics and offers some pretty great jumping off points for further learning!

I Picked This Book Because….

I heard a report on microbes on NPR, and I was fascinated by it. (I can’t find the story I originally heard. But if you click here you will find a ton of other interesting stories about microbes!)

Microbes are everywhere and we each have our own “fingerprint” of microbes. We trade microbes, we can alter our microbes through the foods we eat, and the microbes in one person’s body weigh as much as a brain. All in all, these little guys are really important to how we function.

[If you are interested in this topic, this article from PBS is great: Can We Save Our Body’s Ecosystem from Extinction?]

I’ve read & heard in a few places that our microbiome is like a city or ecosystem. It is so complex and densely populated, and it can hurt or help us depending on what it includes or excludes.

Takeaway: Yes, some microbes can be bad, so wash your hands. But, they can also be really beneficial– we should learn how to properly take care of those little guys!

Stop by Lesson Bungalow  for an experiment & [free], ready-to-go PDF reading guide aligned to the book!



Let’s say that you want to write a picture book about a historical event but you have only the briefest information available. What do you do?

You can follow the example of Barbara Krasner who wrote Goldie Takes a Stand: Golda Meir’s First Crusade. She wrote a book on an incident from Golda’s childhood. Poor children couldn’t afford books so Golda helped raise money for them. Barbara’s only documented information was a newspaper clipping. She invented first person dialogue, which makes this book biographical fiction. But still a learning tool.

Sample: “Will the meeting come to order?” I announced to the girls crowded into our two-room Walnut Street apartment.”

What does this tell us about Golda? That she was a take-charge person.

That she lived in a crowded apartment.


Take any historical figure that interests you. Pick an event from that person’s life. Write a skit imagining the conversation that could have gone on during that event. Answer these questions: Who else was there? What did the event accomplish?

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2014 Deborah Amadei/a> All Rights Reserved. Site Meter