I adore Jen and Kellee from Teach Mentor Text! They are amazing women, outstanding educators, and just fun friends. I am so excited to be able to celebrate their 2nd Blogiversary. One thing I love about their blog is how they do these amazing reviews that should be printed out and kept in a binder. Not only does it have a great summary and reflection of the book but they include what reading level (together and independently), snatches of text, what books you can read along with it, topics covered, and mentor text. There are even writing prompts. I don't think I know any other bloggers who are so thorough with their reviews and are truly a resource for teachers.
In honor of their blogiversary, I am going to do a mini-review/example of one of my favorite books to do with children - The Dreamer by Pamela Munoz Ryan
Here are the words I shared with those who attended the Children's Literature Council of Southern California's Award Banquet where I presented the award for The Dreamer.
The downfall in reading lots and lots of books is that after awhile many of the stories blur together and over time you are left with a vague sense of having read the story and feeling either relatively positive about it or just plain “meh” about it. The upside is when you find that one special book you recall everything – where you were when you read it, the songs that were playing on your iPod, even the emotions you were experiencing during it. And it doesn’t end when you read the last page and close the book. Special books live on. You find yourself thinking about passages from the story, or the motivations behind the characters actions, and your connection with the book grows deeper. Of course, it also becomes that book that you share. You find ways to bring it up in conversations. You tell everyone about it. And you may even have more than one copy since you are always lending it out and can’t find it when you want to share it with another person.
Pamela Muñoz Ryan’s book The Dreamer became one of my special books this past year. In an end of the year 2010 reading marathon, I curled up in my parents’ living room while it snowed outside and I read the story about Neftali Reyes, a sensitive young boy who saw the world with very different eyes than those around him. The story was emotional. The writing lyrical. Even the choice of green ink enhanced the effect of the book on the reader. And when I closed the last page, it was a book I knew I would share with students, that I had to share with students. I wanted them to understand, experience and connect with this book in the same way I had.
Read Together: Grades 4 to 8
Read Alone: Grades 5 to 8
Pair With: Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica Brown; Illustrated by Julie Paschkis
Topic/Category: Fictionalized Biography, Poetry, Family
Writing Prompt: Have students take a walk in around the school or in nature if possible and have them collect things that they found on their walk (Neftali/Pablo finds wonder in nature and is always collecting things he finds on his walks). Use these items to inspire children to write a Cinquain Poem (a shape poem with five lines).
Thanks Jen & Kellee for helping me see book reviews in a new manner and challenging me to think how to make them more purposeful. Hope you have a wonderful Blogiversary.