Review Policy

Monday, August 10, 2015

Book Review: Making a Splash

Author: Carol E Reiley
Illustrator: Jason Pastrana
Interest Level: Ages 3 and Up
Book Website: GoBrain

From the Author: Most people assume that you’re born with a certain amount of intelligence, and that there’s no way to become smarter. But science shows that this is wrong. We now know that intelligence can be developed.  

When discussing how to raise our kids, the growth mindset was the most important thing we wished to instill. I thought that this was an important story to share with the world.

Perhaps your children sometimes go “I can’t do that!” or “I give up!”.  Well, if they say this often enough, they might start to believe it, thus limiting their ability to learn.
I want to show your children that they can learn to do anything.  This way of thinking is called a “Growth Mindset.”  I’m applying the latest research from developmental
psychology in a children’s book called “Making a Splash.” Which tells a story about two siblings, Lisa and Johnny, and how they differ in their attitudes towards learning.
The book contains a powerful message about the growth mindset, that will stay with your children.  The fundamental message is that it’s not about how smart you are.  It’s about how smart you can become.  So, when your children are confronted with tough decisions, I hope the book’s message will encourage your children to view it as an opportunity to grow, and not be afraid to fail.

Why It's on My Bookshelf: Siblings Lisa and Johnny are both learning to swim. For Johnny it comes naturally and he doesn't have to work at it. Lisa has a more difficult time and becomes negative - Swimming is too hard, I CAN'T do this. Her coach teaches her the power of yet. You can't do this YET. When you practice hard, things get easier. That's how we learn. 

Johnny takes the attitude that swimming is easy and he doesn't have to work at it. His thinking is - you've either got it or you don't. He doesn't challenge himself and decides it's silly to want to try anything harder - which puts him on the road to a fixed mindset. Lisa wants to get better so she chooses to take on challenges which are much harder - a growth mindset. Each of their decisions on how hard they worked impacts a day at the beach. Johnny is not able to go into the ocean but because Lisa worked so hard learning to swim she is able to go in no problem. 

Could this be any more perfect for the start of the school year?! This is also the first picture book I have come across using the Growth Mindset model and language. It's so easy for children to just give up on something like Lisa did in the story. Negative self-talk and comparing yourself to others does a real number on confidence. I hope to use this awesome resource to help those kids this year. If you are a teacher, parent, school counselor or someone who wants to teach kids about the power behind Growth Mindset - use this great story. It has life long lessons that kids can apply immediately and you can reinforce. Yes for Growth Mindset!!!

GoBrain also lists some great mindset resources here.

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:

Friday, July 24, 2015

Book Review: Little Bird's Bad Word

Author/Illustrator: Jacob Grant
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

From the Book Jacket: Little Bird learned a new word! He loves it so much, he's bursting to share it with all of his friends. BLARK! The only problem is, this isn't a very nice word. Little Bird doesn't realize it, but it might even hurt someone's feelings. With the help of Papa Bird, maybe Little Bird will learn another new word - one that will make things better. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: Lots of good lessons in this one about language and how we have the choice to be appropriate or inappropriate. Kids quickly learn there are attention getting words and they can make people feel uncomfortable, Little bird almost loses a friend over his behavior.  But the power of an apology and changing his behavior saves the friendship and he learns a big lesson. 

My daughter is learning what words are socially acceptable and she is especially starting to figure out words can trigger reactions and emotions in others. This is a nice reminder for adults - they are not only watching us but LISTENING to everything we say. (Little Bird learns the word from Papa!) This will fit into many lessons at school around kindness and community building and maybe even be part of our No-Name Calling week. I've worked with many students who are heart broken over hurtful things said to them - this is a helpful resource to stop that negative behavior. 

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Book Review: Rude Cakes

Author/Illustrator: Rowboat Watkins
Interest Level: Ages 3 and Up

From the Book Jacket: In this deliciously entertaining book, a not-so-sweet cake - who never says please or thank you or listens to its parents -gets its just desserts. But even the rudest cake can learn to change its ways. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: With a three year old in the house I am always looking for books to help with manners. My daughter is obsessed with Rude Cakes. This cake lacks some serious social skills. The tables get turned though and the cake quickly learns the importance of thinking about others feelings. This is a cute book and we are really enjoying reading and discussing it. I can see this being used in my social thinking groups at school. 

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Book Review: Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda

Author: Lauren Alderfer
Illustrator: Kerry Lee MacLean
Interest Level: Ages 5 and Up

About This Book: This wonderful picture book for children and adults alike introduces the powerful practice of mindfulness in a fun and exciting way. With the delightful Monkey and his serene friend Happy Panda guiding readers to a calmer and more attentive mind, this whimsical yet warm presentation will delight all readers. 

Monkey is not so mindful - his Monkey Mind constantly jumping from one thing to another
- but he encounters a mysterious and playful friend in Happy Panda. Panda helps Monkey recognize the simple joy of doing what you're doing while you're doing it. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: Anxiety. I have been encountering more and more students who are struggling with anxiety. Most of these kids do not know how to manage it and the coping skills they have usually revolve around fight, flight or freeze. Putting together a curriculum around mindfulness to help students with these challenges has been a mission of mine. This book is an EXCELLENT resource. Monkey mind is a Buddhist expression which refers to the incessant chatter that goes on in our heads. I think we all struggle with this! I will definitely be using this as a read aloud in ALL classrooms. It's a message all kids will relate to because we all have some level of stress in our lives. Makes sense to learn how to manage it early in life- not later. 

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Book Review: Good Night Yoga: A Pose-By-Pose Bedtime Story

About This Book: Kids love yoga—and it’s great for them, so much so that the President’s Council has added the practice to the fitness activities in the annual President’s Challenge. For parents and caregivers looking for a fun and effective new routine for bedtime, innovative educator Mariam Gates presents Good Night Yoga, a playful yet wholly practical book for preparing for sleep.

This beautifully illustrated, full-color book tells the story of the natural world as it closes down for the night, while teaching children a simple flow of yoga postures inspired by their favorite characters from nature. Moving from “Sun Breath” to “Cloud Gathering” to “Ladybug & Butterfly” and more, readers learn techniques for self-soothing, relaxing the body and mind, focusing attention, and other skills that will support restful sleep and improve overall confidence and well-being.
Why It's On My Bookshelf: We've been reading and doing these poses at home as we wind down for bed - absolutely love it! Illustrations are spot on and the different yoga postures are easy to do. I'd love to try and figure out how to incorporate this into the school setting. Maybe even just showing the kids in different positions would be a great way to introduce movement and breathing into the classroom. I'd love to see another book like this called 'Good Morning Yoga'! I highly recommend this one for your bookshelf at home and school. 

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Book Review: Ready-To-Use Resources for Mindsets in the Classroom

From the Book Jacket: Ready-to-Use Resources for Mindsets in the Classroom provides educators with tools they need to help students change their thinking about their abilities and potential. The book features ready-to-use, interactive tools for students, teachers, parents, administrators, and professional development educators. Parent resources include a sample parent webpage and several growth mindset parent education tools. Other resources include: mindset observation forms, student and teacher "look for," lists of books that contribute to growth mindset thinking, critical thinking strategy write-ups and samples, and a unique study guide for the original book that includes book study models from various schools around the country. This book is prefect for schools looking to implement the ideas in Mindsets in the Classroom so that they can build a growth mindset learning environment. When students believe that dedication and hard work can change their performance in school, they grow to become resilient, successful students. This book contains many of the things that schools need to create a growth mindset school culture in which perseverance can lead to success!

Why It's On My Bookshelf: So thrilled there is a resource guide to go with Mindsets in the Classroom. I blogged about this book about two years ago and was really hoping a curriculum would eventually be published to go with it. My wish came true! I've been piecing together my own lessons around mindset for the past year. This is going to be so helpful to my work in this area. I highly recommend this one to start out your school year. Feeling inspired!

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Book Review: In My Heart - A Book of Feelings

Author: Jo Witek
Illustrator: Christine Roussey
Interest Level: Ages 3 and Up

From the Book Jacket: Sometimes my heart feels like a big yellow star, shiny and bright. I smile from ear to ear and twirl around so fast, I feel as if I could take off into the sky. This is when my heart is happy. This book is a vibrant celebration of feelings, in all their shapes and sizes. 

Feelings Covered: Happy, Brave, Mad, Calm, Broken, Sad, Hopeful, Afraid, Silly, Shy, Proud

Why It's On My Bookshelf: Next year my goal is to run more social skills groups around identifying feelings. So I've been on the hunt for great reads in this area. I want to help kids create their own books on emotions during our group. In My Heart is a super cool one. There is a heart cutout through the whole book. I also like the feelings covered because they are so appropriate for my kindergarten groups. 

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Book Review: Red

Author/Illustrator: Jan De Kinder
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

About This Book: In this poignant story, a girl finds it funny when her classmate starts blushing on the school playground. Her friends laugh along with her, but one student takes the teasing too far. Torn between her sympathy for her classmate and her fear of the bully, the girl must make a difficult choice. This heartfelt book will inspire readers to find the courage to take a stance against bullying and show compassion towards others. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I'm starting to focus even more on the bystanders as part of our bully prevention at my school. They are a group that needs empowerment and given the permission to do something when they witness the mistreatment of others. It's a story with really impactful illustrations and words. I was so excited to see this new title. Definitely a difference maker!

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Book Review: What Does It Mean To Be Present?

Author: Rana DiOrio
Illustrator: Eliza Wheeler
Interest Level: Ages 5 and Up

About This Book: This refreshing, vibrant picture book engages all of the senses to demonstrate the myriad of ways a child can seize the moment. The story sparks meaningful discussions about the important gift of appreciation, giving children and adults alike the opportunity to live more fully and richly.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This is the perfect book to start the New Year. It's the absolute cure for all of us (children and adults) who are overwhelmed with anxiety. The message of living in the moment gets lost with everything that is thrown at kids in school etc. Often times we ask kids to set goals when we come back from winter break as part of a New Year's activity. How about a simple goal like - Being Present. I'd love to explore this more with students. It's up to us to model this way of being. Lets get started!

Take a peek at the awesomeness below from What Does It Mean To Be Present. Wish I would have bought this sooner. Thanks to a colleague/wonderful friend, she reminded me of this book She has been reading it with her 5th grade class - with positive results in her classroom community and in the hearts and minds of her dear students. 

A Link to This Book and Others That Might Be Helpful:

Thanks For Following and Happy New Year!