10 Minute Review: The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary

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As 2016 draws to an end, I am frantically trying to read as many 2016 middle grade novels as I can before I move on to 2017 books. One book that I have been wanted to read for months was The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Donalyn Miller wrote a beautiful review of the book for Nerdy Book Club earlier in the year, Corinna Allen booked talked it on the Books Between podcast, and many of my Nerdy friends have been raving about it for months.

I’m not 100% sure why it took me so long to read the book. It probably has something to do with the fact that the book is told in poems from 18 fifth graders. I often struggle to keep 3 characters in a book straight in my head. 18 characters seemed pretty intimidating. Once I started reading, I quickly realized that juggling these 18 different personalities wouldn’t be as hard as I thought. The different voices felt like such an authentic representation of a classroom, that I found myself just attaching the faces of former students that reminded me of Laura Shovan’s characters. Before too long, I was no longer reading about Laura’s characters because I was reading about my students.

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary made me appreciate my school, my students, my community, and own children a little bit more. It is a beautiful book that everyone should read. Everyone.

5 Non-Fiction Picture Books That I’m Nominating For A Nerdy

I love non-fiction picture books. Sharing them with my third grade students brings me great joy. Here are the five non-fiction picture books that I’ll be nominating for a Nerdy. Please consider nominating your favorite 2016 books for a Nerdy by clicking on the image below.

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A Poem for Peter

By: Andrea Davis Pinkney

Pictures By: Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson

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Ada’s Ideas

By: Fiona Robinson

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Some Writer!

By: Melissa Sweat

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Radiant Child

By: Javaka Steptoe

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The Marvelous Thing That Came From A Spring

By: Gilbert Ford

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Click here to see the books I’m nominating for a Middle Grade Fiction Nerdy

 

5 Middle Grade Fiction Books That I’m Nominating For A Nerdy

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The Nerdy Book Club ballot is open! It is one of my favorite award list of the year. I love that the books are selected by the Nerdy community. Any list that created by book loving teachers, librarians, authors, illustrators, and other kid lit fanatics is a list I can get behind.

Please go to the Nerdy Book Club and nominate your favorite 2016 books!

Here are the five books that I am going to nominate for Middle Grade Fiction.

 

Full of Beans 

By: Jennifer L. Holm

At some point Ms. Holm may want to consider changing the L to an N: Jennifer N(ewbery) Holm. Everything she creates is awesome.

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All Rise For The Honorable Perry T. Cook

By: Leslie Connor

Perry might be my favorite  character of 2016. I loved getting to know him.

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The Wild Robot

By: Peter Brown

Where was this book when I was 10? Man, I would have loved to have read this book when I was a kid.

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Raymie Nightingale

By: Kate DiCamillo

Ms. DiCamillo keeps getting better. I’m not sure how that is possible, but it is true. Her work is such a gift to readers.

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Ms. Bixby’s Last Day

By: John David Anderson

I wonder how many people cried while reading this book in 2016. I bet it was a lot.

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I’d love to know what 2016 middle grade fiction books you loved reading this year.

 

Six Things I Love About My Class

 

1. They are huggers. Third graders tend to show their love through hugs, but this year’s class is quicker to dish out the hugs than any class I’ve had before. It is hard to have a bad day when 8 year-olds are dishing out a bunch of hugs.

 

2. They love graphic novels. I’m pretty confident that statement would be true with just about any third grade classroom where kids are encouraged to read comics. I never tire of seeing kids discover Babymouse, Lunch Lady, and Zita the Spacegirl.

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3. They are honest. Kids are generally pretty honest, but this year’s class may contain the most honest group of kids that I have ever been around. I’ll be like, “Did you take that out of so and so’s locker ?” and they’ll be like, “Yes. I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?” It makes my heart sing!

4. They love picture books. No surprise here. I think if given the chance, every human in the world would say that they love picture books. What’s not to love?

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5. They cherish read alouds. I LOVE reading aloud to this year’s group. I can’t finish a book without a bunch of hands shooting up with hope that I’ll let them add the book to their book basket.

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6. They are book hoarders. Their book baskets are full. Their seat sacks are overflowing with books. Some kids have run out places to hoard books, so they are now sitting on a stack of books. I swear, this one girl in my class has been sitting on Molly Idle’s Flora series for a week. Part of me wants to help her find another place to store the books, and part of me want to wait it out and see how long she’ll sit on the flamingo, penguin and peacock.

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5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Kate Beasley

 

Earlier this week my pal Travis Jonker and I premiered the first episode  of our new Season of The Yarn. In this season we are featuring Kate Beasley and her book Gertie’s Leap to Greatness. You can check it out by clicking on the image below.

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It seems like it has been way too long since Mr. Schu and I have done a trifecta. I’m glad we’re back on the wagon today sharing posts on Ms. Beasley’s Gertie’s Leap to Greatness.

Check out Mr. Schu’s post on his site!

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The editor of Gertie’s Leap to Greatness, Grace Kendall, has written a beautiful post about the book over at Nerdy Book Club.

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My turn! I asked Kate my standard 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 questions. Check it out below!

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  1. Can you tell us a little bit about Gertie’s Leap to Greatness?

Gertie lives in Alabama with her dad and her great-aunt Rae. When Gertie finds out that her mom, who abandoned her when she was a baby, is leaving town for good, she decides to prove that she doesn’t need a mom anyway. Now, she’s on a mission to be the best fifth grader in the universe. This mission hits a snag when a new girl, Mary Sue Spivey, moves to town. (4)

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  1. What is best part about being an author?  

Sometimes I’m just typing away, and my characters surprise me by saying and doing the most fascinating things. It’s like I’m not coming up with the story—I’m just recording it. I LOVE that feeling. (3)

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  1. What’s the hardest part of being an author?

A lot of times I can’t find the right words to say what I want, and I get mad at myself. Then I have to stop being mad at myself before I can move on. (2)

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  1. If you could spend one day living in the world of a book, which book would you pick?  

Circus Mirandus. (1)

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  1. What advice do you have for the young writers in my classroom?

Your work is always better when you’re writing about something you’re interested in. So, whatever you’re working on, try to find something about it that makes it interesting to YOU, and then it will be interesting to other people, too. Also, don’t get mad at yourself. I can tell you from experience that it doesn’t help. And please please please know that you can do this; I believe in you. (5)

 

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Lane Smith

Jory John and Lane smith are quite a pair! I am pretty confident that the kids in our homes, classrooms, and libraries are going to be BIG FANS of their new book Penguin Problems.

I got a chance to ask Lane Smith a handful of questions. It must be my lucky day!

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  1. Can you tell us a little bit about PENGUIN PROBLEMS?

 Let me see if I have this right. I’m supposed to answer in 5 sentences? I don’t know if I can explain the book in just five sentences. Okay, let me give it a shot. It’s about a penguin with problems. Oh, and it also has some great life lessons. And it’s really funny! And… oh dear. That’s too much isn’t it? I went over 5 sentences, didn’t I? Oh dear. Okay, I’ll stop now. Really. I’m so sorry for going over. I have so many problems.

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  1. What is best part about being a book illustrator?

 Staying. A. Kid. Forever.

  1. What’s the hardest part of being a book illustrator?

 There is nothing hard about being a book illustrator. It is the greatest job in the world. Except maybe being a teacher.

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  1. If you could spend one day living in the world of a book, which book would you pick?

 The History of Chocolate. Okay, I guess I should say, The History of Chocolate (and Broccoli).

  1. What advice do you have for the young creators in my classroom?

Always listen to your teacher.

#ClassroomBookADay : August 2016

This year my students are participating in #ClassroomBookADay. At the end of each day we read a picture book together. We read other texts during the day as well, and I’m going to include them in my end of the month #ClassroomBookADay round-ups. I’ll also share the books guest readers read to my students. Feel free to call me out on any holes in the texts I’m sharing with my squad. I’ve already noticed some holes myself. Yikes!

Hopefully sharing the texts I share with my students each month will help me hold myself accountable. My students deserve to be exposed to lots of different types of books. I know that I need to read more nonfiction aloud. I know that I need to introduce my students to more diverse authors. I’ll get there. I promise.

Below you will find the books read to my students the first seven days of the school year.