Review Policy

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!

Monday, December 1, 2014

A New Family Tradition

I get so excited when the holidays roll around. I can't wait to start blasting Christmas music, decorating our house, baking etc etc. Our daughter is just starting to understand the concept of Santa and of course PRESENTS. Let me tell you, it's really easy to get caught up in the gift frenzy with the littles. So when I thought about starting the Advent Calendar I wanted to use it as an opportunity to instill some values. I have seen the idea of a book Advent before and thought - what a great way to teach our daughter about the REAL spirit of the holidays....which is about kindness, generosity, love, and family. 

The idea is to wrap twenty five books and open one a night with the calendar. Here is our Advent CalendarIt is nothing fancy and totally reminds me of the one we had growing up. If you go on Pinterest you can find some spectacular DIY ones.

And then, get wrapping!!

I haven't decided if we will wrap them every year. I might keep them in a basket by the advent calendar next year. But since it's our first year - I wanted to make it fun. (it's a lot of wrapping folks, but goes quickly) 

I kept our list of books pretty secular. I just tried to find a good variety that our 3 year old daughter would understand and carry a message of kindness, giving, hope and love. I am so excited to read these to her. Hope you enjoy my list. Happy Holidays!

The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett
Little Teeka thought she had to be firm with the reindeer to get them ready for Santa's important flight, but when her bossy yelling only got their antlers tangled up, she knew she had to try something different. 

Mr. Willowby's Christmas tree is too tall, so he trims off the top and gives the top to the upstairs maid for her tree, and she finds it too tall, so she cuts off the top, which the gardener uses for his tree, but it is too tall . It's the story of how one tree becomes the perfect tree for many people, and animals, as it keeps getting clipped shorter and shorter and passed down to someone else.

The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown
Once there was a tree that stood in a field away from the other trees. It longed to be part of the forest—or part of anything at all. After many lonely years, its dream came true. And the little fir tree's life changed forever!

The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert
Long ago, a brave little girl named Anja wanted to be one of Santa's elves. So she leaves a note for her family and helps her elderly neighbor prepare for the holiday, then she straps on her skis, and heads out into the snowy landscape. From a red bird to a polar bear to a reindeer, a menagerie of winter animals help Anja make her way to Santa. 

The Biggest Snowman Ever by Steven Kroll
The mayor of Mouseville has announced a contest for the biggest snowman. Clayton and Desmond race against the clock to compete for the prize, but soon realize that they can only build so high! With a lot of snow and a super-strong friendship, the two mice discover that by working together they can build a monumental snowman.

Night Tree by Eve Bunting
By moonlight in the quiet forest, a young boy and his family decorate their favorite tree with popcorn, apples, tangerines, and sunflower-seed balls as a gift for the animals of the woods. This beautifully illustrated story of a family’s unusual tradition brings to life the true spirit of Christmas.

Finding Christmas by Helen Ward
A young girl wanders through the snow on Christmas Eve, looking for a gift for a very special someone (her baby brother, we later learn). She happens upon a glowing toy shop, but before she can select a present, a mysterious old gentleman--Santa himself--scoops up everything in the store. All seems to be lost until Santa sends the perfect gift spinning from his sleigh, helping the girl find Christmas after all.

Winter's Gift by Jane Monroe Donovan
It may be Christmastime but on a small, forlorn farm the holiday season is best forgotten, along with painful memories of loved ones lost. Mother Nature has other plans, however, and a chance snowstorm brings together two unlikely hearts, one human and one beast, yet both yearning for comfort, companionship, and that most elusive gift of all, hope. 

An overgrown pine is always being passed by for Christmas. The birds, deer and squirrel help make their special friend's wish come true.

The Grinch, whose heart is two sizes too small, hates Who-ville's holiday celebrations, and plans to steal all the presents to prevent Christmas from coming. To his amazement, Christmas comes anyway, and the Grinch discovers the true meaning of the holiday.

This beloved story stars Rudolph, a young reindeer with a glowing nose. When the other reindeer make fun of him, Rudolph runs away. But with the help of a misfit elf named Herbie and a prospector named Yukon Cornelius, Rudolph learns that you shouldn't run away from your problems. 

In The Berenstain Bears and The Joy of Giving Brother and Sister Bear can’t wait for Christmas and all the presents they’ll open. But during the Christmas Eve pageant, something special happens! The Bear cubs learn a very valuable lesson about the joy of giving to others.

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
In a shabby New York flat, Della sobs as she counts the few coins she has saved to buy a Christmas present for her husband, Jim. A gift worthy of her devotion will require a great sacrifice: selling her long, beautiful hair. Jim, meanwhile, has made a sacrifice for Della that is no less difficult. As they exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, the discovery of what each has done fills them with despair, until they realize that the true gifts of Christmas can be found more readily in their humble apartment than in any fine store.

An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco
This is a holiday story close to Patricia Polacco's heart. Frankie was her grandmother's youngest brother, and every year she and her family remember this tale of a little boy who learned--and taught--an important lesson about giving, one Christmas long ago.

A Christmas Dress For Ellen by Thomas Monson
On Christmas Eve, 1927, in the prairie town of Hillsspring, Alberta, Canada, a young mother, Mary Jeppson, was getting her five small children ready for bed. Her heart was full of sorrow, for there was nothing to fill the stockings, and there would be only a little much for breakfast. But George Schow, their mailman, had a surprise in store. Could he brave the coming storm and bitter cold to deliver a Christmas miracle? 

The Longest Christmas List Ever by Gregg Spiridellis
Little Trevor is determined to not leave ANYTHING off his Christmas list so he carries it with him everywhere he goes...for an entire year. This is a story of how greed can get away of what really matters at Christmas.

The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumor Godden
Ivy, Holly, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones all have one Christmas wish. Ivy, an orphan, wishes for a real home and sets out in search of the grandmother she's sure she can find. Holly, a doll, wishes for a child to bring her to life. And the Joneses wish more than anything for a son or daughter to share their holiday. Can all three wishes come true?

And Then Comes Christmas by Tom Brenner
From icicles clinging to roofs and houses strung with colorful lights to visiting Santa and hunting for the perfect tree, this classic-in-the-making celebrates all of the holiday’s excitement. Evoking both winter’s changes to the world outside and well-loved traditions taking place within, here is a story to encourage readers to curl up with their loved ones and bask in the magic of the Christmas season.

The Last Christmas Tree by Stephen Krensky
Among the grand balsam firs and pines at the Christmas tree lot is a little hunched tree that is missing several branches. Still, no tree is more filled with the spirit of Christmas. As the weeks go by, many others are selected but still the little tree keeps up its hope of finding the perfect family. On Christmas Eve, now the last tree in the lot, a special visitor (Ho, Ho, Ho!) might just give the little tree what it wants most of all.

Merry Christmas Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood
It's Christmas and the little Mouse is looking forward to opening the presents around the tree. But what about the Big Hungry Bear who lives on top of the hill? The little Mouse's brave and generous spirit reminds us that Christmas is for everyone, not just ourselves. 

To protect his ears from the cold and snow, Mother Rabbit knits Little Rabbit a hat. He loves his hat so much, he and his mother make them for all of his friends.

It's Christmas Eve, and both Melrose and Croc are all alone in the city.  They dream of a wonderful Christmas but feel sad when there is no one to share it with.  It might have been their loneliest holiday ever, if not for a collision with fate.  Could this be the beginning of a magical Christmas, and the start of a cherished friendship?

The Smallest Gift of Christmas by Peter H Reynolds
Roland can’t wait for Christmas Day, and when the morning finally arrives he races downstairs to see what is waiting for him. What he sees stops him in his tracks. Could that tiny present really be what he had waited all year for? It has to be the smallest gift he had ever seen! So Roland wishes for something bigger . . . and bigger . . . and bigger. 

Presents with elegant wrapping paper, festive decorations, Christmas cookies with sprinkles—and who could forget the tree? After all, there is no such thing as too much tinsel. Ooh la la! This year, Nancy is especially excited about decorating the Christmas tree. She bought a brand-new sparkly tree topper with her own money and has been waiting for Christmas to come. But when things don't turn out the way Nancy planned, will Christmas still be splendiferous?

The Mitten Tree by Candace Christensen
One snowy day an elderly woman, Sarah, watches children gathering at the bus stop. While they never seem to notice her, she notices them, especially one little boy who has no mittens. That night, Sarah knits the boy a pair of cozy mittens and places them on the blue spruce tree for him to discover. It soon becomes a game, with the children looking for new mittens on the mysterious tree every morning, and Sarah joyfully knitting new ones each night.