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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

First Day Books - Reads for 2010

At every major holiday and special school occasion, I often selected a great book for each grade level and thought I would have a "tradition" for a couple of years anyway ~ but eventually I figured out that teachers "found" my favorite book for the next year and I had to find a new one anyway.  The year I read Allan Say's Tree of Cranes to second graders for the winter holiday was a turning point.  I loved the book and the story behind the story.  The next year - every second grade teacher had replicated my author introduction and the reading of the book before I had it scheduled.  So much for that grand plan.  That year I choose a book to read to grades K-2; and grades 3-5, and then suggested a different follow-up book for each of the specific grade levels.
For the intermediate students (and sometimes primary) -- I often chose a "new" read aloud book for each occasion, introduced one to the primary students, and another to the Intermediate students -- then it was theirs.  They could use it however they wanted, whenever they wanted.
At the beginning of each school year I went a little further, I selected my book and then followed up by purchasing paperback copies for each of the teachers whose class I would be reading the first chapter of a novel to and then I would introduce the author to each class in a grade range, read the first chapter, and then hand over the copy of the book to the teacher (in front of the children) and tell the children that if  they worked real hard and begged their teacher perhaps she/he would read the rest of the book to them.  This served to open the school year on a note supporting READING, and also subtly got teachers (some reluctant to "take time to read aloud") into the habit of reading aloud.

This year my choice to start the year off, for intermediate readers would be The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary by Candace Fleming (Schwartz & Wade, 2007; Yearling Pb, 2009) -- it is a very funny book that introduces puns (get ready to groan), Mr. Jupiter (the very eccentric 4th grade teacher) and several very interesting students who "have a reputation."  --This book would really cheer on learning, innovative thinking, creative endeavors, and just plain fun with learning.  Students will be begging for just one more chapter -- and then for one more book.  

And Fleming has that book coming this month (August, 2010), The Fabled Fifth Graders of Aesop Elementary by Candace Fleming (Schwartz & Wade, 2010).  This book will be featured in my "In the Spotlight" column in Library Sparks in January 2011.
For primary students, I think I would take a look at Toni Buzzeo's The Library Doors -- with illustrations by the wonderful Nadine Wescott (Upstart Books, 2008) or Pat Miller's We're Going on a Book Hunt, another book illustrated by Wescott and published by Upstart Books.  Both have a connection to old rhymes.  Could be great fun for any of the primary classes -- while bringing them to know some of the conventions of library use. 

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