Monday, August 31, 2015

Building Classroom Libraries: Classroom Bookshelf Tips for the Start to the School Year


Paolo Freire and Donald Macedo wrote that “Literacy is the language of possibility.” At The Classroom Bookshelf, it’s no surprise that we love children’s and young adult literature. We also love the start of the school year as a time full of possibility for what literacy instruction will look and feel like in your classroom. Part of setting the tone that your classroom is a community of readers is to consider the design and contents of your classroom library. In conversations with colleagues and friends, we hear about how they are setting up their classroom bookshelves and reflecting on the kind of community they want to construct through books with their students. Now is the time to assess how your students will have access to books, what their routines will be for selecting books, and whether or not your classroom bookshelf provides opportunities for students to both see themselves, their interests and identities in books, as well as learn about the life experiences of others. 

The following are some Classroom Bookshelf tips on making your classroom library accessible, enjoyable, inviting, affirming, and eye-opening for students.

1. To level or not to level? While it can be helpful, especially for early readers, to have access to books that support growing levels of decoding, fluency, and stamina, it is equally important to have a range of books that are non-leveled and to set up a classroom routine that supports reading by interest regardless of level.  In addition, as you level books, be mindful of the unintended consequences of early readers’ awareness of levels. Students as early as Kindergarten can become acutely aware of what a letter or number sticker means for his or her reading identity and can breed unnecessary self-doubt turning young readers off of reading. Consider other systems such as colored dots for early readers that provide a less hierarchical leveling structure and consider your own philosophies about whether leveled libraries have a place in classrooms at all. At The Classroom Bookshelf, we each have our own personal philosophies about leveled libraries. Some of us believe that classroom libraries should include a balanced approach with leveled and non-leveled books, while some of us believe that classroom libraries should not be leveled at all. It is important to have conversations with teachers in your building about what you believe and why. Finally, take note of what’s working (and what’s not) about your classroom library as the school year unfolds. When you see unintended consequences, consider alternatives.

2. Balance genres. Some of us are avid fiction readers. Some are avid nonfiction readers. Some of us read both with abandon. If you are adding books to your classroom bookshelves, those choices may reflect your personal reading interests. But what about the preferences of your students? Ensure a balance of genres by showcasing a range of fiction (realistic, historical, fantasy, science fiction) as well as nonfiction children’s and young adult literature. Not to mention poetry! We love the nonfiction authors at the i.N.K. (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) collaborative. While visiting their website note their incredible Nonfiction Minute which is a free and easy way to incorporate short, well-crafted, nonfiction pieces into your instruction. Look for ways to display and organize books by genre as well as a range of formats including graphic novels. Search our Classroom Bookshelf labels to look for particular genres and formats that feel like they need refreshing in your collection.

3. Value picture books. Picture books are complex in language and meaning. While students may be excited to reach their first chapter books and dig into series books, support students to engage with the complex storylines of picture books at every age such as many of the Caldecott winners and honor books we blog about. As readers interact with picture books, their imaginations fill in missing themes and engage in critical thinking that can be more difficult to authentically experience with early chapter books. Picture books also provide many readers comfort as they revisit stories from earlier in their childhoods or from their homes. Nonfiction picture books, in particular, support students to learn new content about the world around us. Picture books also provide a pathway to visual literacy skills that students need in and out of school as they engage with the world. Support students to notice artists’ techniques and their use of line, color, space, and layout. What do the illustrations reveal that is not stated in words? Some of our favorite books are wordless picture books that foster critical thinking and storytelling possibilities for students of all ages, levels, and languages. For older students, value the artistry and storylines of graphic novels that are rich in imagination and often provide a springboard for students to take to text in new ways. Search our Classroom Bookshelf labels for picture books, picture book autobiographies and biographies, as well as graphic novels for some of our favorites.

4. Represent diverse society through books. While the world of children’s literature is overwhelmingly White and middle class, the 2014 American Library Association award-recipients represent a sea change including Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover and Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming. Lee and Low Books has created a list of ten reasons to read diversely including “walking in someone else’s shoes builds empathy” and “Diverse readers redefine who and what we can be.” We couldn’t agree more. If your students are not represented in the book covers and illustrations of the books that line your shelves, your first bookshelf action should be to right that imbalance. If we know from proficient reader research that readers make connections, it helps explain why some of our students struggle to make connections if their story and lived experiences are not represented in the literature available to them. Even if your students come from a dominant social group, diverse literature helps counter prejudices and supports prosocial development. Lee and Low Books has an excellent advanced search tool to find books that represent different cultural identities. You can also search our site by topic in the search bar to see what we have blogged about. Teaching Tolerance has a new site dedicated to Appendix D: A Tool for Selecting Diverse Texts. We also recommend Boyd, Causey, & Galda’s recent article in The Reading Teacher on Culturally Diverse Literature and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk titled “The Danger of a Single Story”. Finally, edutopia has recently recirculated its post on preparing for cultural diversity in your classroom with a series of important resources and links. 

5. Spotlight books tied to student interest. The beginning of the school year is a time where we build community and get to know our students’ interests. What are their hobbies after school? What are they curious about? What are their dreams and aspirations? Work in partnership with your school and local librarian to spotlight books that directly connect to your students’ interests as soon as you learn about them. Are there characters who have the same passions? Are there nonfiction books that can speak to your students’ interests outside of school? The search tool at The Classroom Bookshelf will also support you to search by topic, word, or phrase and if we have blogged about something tied to that topic as detailed in our reviews or teaching invitations, it will be curated for you with links to our blog entries.

6. Create interactive possibilities.  Support your students to share what they love, what builds their curiosity, and what they want to talk back to in texts. Consider an interactive bulletin board where students can comment on post-its or “thinking squares” their short responses to the books they’ve read. Consider simple ways for students to share their opinions or informal reviews of books through a calendar sign up sheet supporting 1-2 students a day to share their views. Have letter writing paper readily available along with your students’ favorite authors addresses or have email accessible for students to compose messages to authors. Ask your students for their innovative ways to make their reactions to books seen and heard.

7. Share your own favorites. Our students love to know what we’re reading and the books we’ve fallen in love with even if they are books written for adults. Create a display that rotates some favorites of yours throughout the year by considering a balance of genres and formats and authentic representations of diversity.


Next week we pick up again with our book reviews and teaching invitations from the books we have been reading this summer and early fall. We look forward to another school year of reading and sharing with you the possibilities we find within the pages of children’s and young adult literature.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Summer Reading 2015

The Classroom Bookshelf will be taking a summer vacation, returning on Monday, August 31st. As our final entry for the academic year, we offer you a collection of links designed to keep you and the children and young adults in your life happily reading over the next several months. We wish you have a restful, peaceful, and productive summer. 

During this time, we would really love to hear from you. If you have used teaching ideas from our blog in your classroom, how did it go? What worked? What didn't? How did your students respond?

Please email one or all four of us. No story or classroom anecdote is too small!


2015 Summer Readings Lists 

Reading Rockets: Get Ready For Summer!
http://www.readingrockets.org/article/23428

Collaborative Summer Library Program
http://www.cslpreads.org

ALA: Library Summer Reading Programs
http://www.ala.org/tools/libfactsheets/alalibraryfactsheet17

ALA: 2015 Notable Children's Books
http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/notalists/ncb 

The Horn Book - 2015 Summer Reading Recommendations
http://www.hbook.com/2015/05/choosing-books/recommended-books/2015-summer-reading-recommendations/

Lee and Low Books Diverse Summer Reading Book List, K-8
http://blog.leeandlow.com/2015/06/08/2015-diverse-summer-reading-book-lists-k-8/#more-10911

We Need Diverse Books Summer Reading Series
http://weneeddiversebooks.org/summer-reading-series/

Children’s Choices (International Reading Association)

Teachers’ Choices (International Reading Association)

Children's Book Council: Building a Home Library
http://www.cbcbooks.org/building-a-home-library/?utm_source=Building+a+Home+Library&utm_campaign=Home+Library+Lists&utm_medium=email

Booklist Top 10 Biographies of 2015
http://www.booklistonline.com/ProductInfo.aspx?pid=7521555&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1
Note: Classroom Bookshelf selections listed-
Brown Girl Dreaming
Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Trees
The Family Romanov
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus

Great Kid Books: Berkeley School Libraries K-5 Summer Reading Suggestions Based on Fountas and Pinnell Levels
http://greatkidbooks.blogspot.com/p/summer-reading-suggestions.html

Enhancing Summer Reading White Paper
http://summerreading.pla.org/paper/#focus 

PBS Parents: Fun Summer Science Projects for Kids
http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/science/tips/summer-science-projects/

Text Sets for Summer Reading: Cambridge, MA  
http://www3.cpsd.us/Schools/summer_reading

Audio Books for Families 

We love audio books for long car rides with the family. Many public libraries now have downloadable audio books that you can listen to on an MP3 player, iPad, or iPod. Check in with your local public library and share the details with parents and students before the year is over. You might want to search for some of the books included in these lists below.

The Audies Awards 2015 (Audio Book Awards)
http://www.audiopub.org/audies-contest.asp

2015 Notable Children’s Recordings (American Library Association)
http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/notalists/ncr

2015 Notable Young Adult Recordings (American Library Association)

Resources for Teachers/Parents

Literacy Tips for Parents (Reading Rockets)
http://www.readingrockets.org/audience/parents

Summer Reading Loss (Reading Rockets)
http://www.readingrockets.org/article/15218/#literacy

Summer Reading Loss: School Library Journal Interview with Dick Allington
http://www.slj.com/2013/06/curriculum-connections/summer-reading-and-the-richpoor-achievement-gap-an-educator-responds-to-questions/

American Library Association Great Websites for Kids
http://gws.ala.org

The Cooperative Center for Books for Children Bibliographies
http://www.education.wisc.edu/ccbc/books/bibBio.asp

50 Bilingual Spanish/English Integrated Books (CCBC)
http://www.education.wisc.edu/ccbc/books/detailListBooks.asp?idBookLists=102

International Children’s Digital Library
http://en.childrenslibrary.org

Free digital PDFs of children’s picture books from around the globe in their original language. There is an iPad app that allows for easy viewing on your iPad.Start With a Book
http://www.startwithabook.org 

School Library Journal article on Range, an app that locates free summer meals and libraries as safe havens 
http://www.slj.com/2015/05/technology/applications/indiegogo-campaign-for-an-app-to-help-kids-find-safe-havens-during-summer/#_

Monday, June 8, 2015

Goodbye Stranger

Goodbye Stranger
Written by Rebecca Stead
Wendy Lamb Books, 2015

On Sale August 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-74317-4

Grades 6-8

Book Review
“You must have been put on this earth for a reason, little girl, to have survived.” So claims a nurse at the Manhattan hospital in which eight-year old Bridget Parsamian recovers after getting hit by a car and nearly losing her life. Bridget exits the hospital transformed inside and out; no longer feeling like a Bridget, she asks to be called Bridge. And indeed, twelve-year old Bridge serves as a bridge to her friends and family over the course of the six months in which Goodbye Stranger is set. Stead’s latest work is comprised of three braided narratives told from three different characters' perspectives: Bridge’s third person narrative is told chronologically over the six months; Sherm’s narrative is also told chronologically but in the first person, through unsent letters to his grandfather; and finally, an unknown high school girl’s narrative is told through second person, within the context of a single day, Valentine’s Day. This is a story about love, loss, and redemption; it’s a story about friendships and family; it’s a story about growing up without growing out of your old friends, and about making new ones. Each of the main characters in this story confront his/her interior self: “Who’s the real you? The person who did something awful, or the one who’s horrified by the awful thing you did?” (p. 257). Each is also trying to figure out how s/he fits into the ever-changing landscape of their school community. In the end, the reader discovers along with the characters that “[t]he human heart doesn’t really pump the way everyone thinks…the heart wrings itself out. It twists in two different directions, like you’d do to squeeze the water out of a wet towel” (p. 280). This book is simply beautiful. As you move through the text, you, too, will feel your heart pulled in two directions or more, and you will marvel at the layers of life to be uncovered and explored. “Life isn’t something that happens to you. It’s something you make yourself, all the time” (p. 281).

Teaching Ideas and Invitations

Girls, Trust, Love. This is a story about friendship - friendship between husbands and wives, grandparents and grandchildren, brothers and sisters, male and female classmates, and even strangers. At the core of the novel is the friendship between Bridge, Em, and Tabitha. On the margins is the friendship between Celeste and Gina. Within the context of each of the girls’ friendships, one does something to violate the trust of another, and hurt her deeply. And yet, the friendships continue. Why? What does Stead illuminate, through her characters, about the strength and power of female friendships? How does this contrast with the images of preteen and teen girls that the media gives us? Break students up into small groups to explore the nature of female friendship in commercials, television shows (both fictional and reality tv – another form of fiction) and movies. To what extent do the “Queen Bees” get the attention in these outlets? To what extent is competition between girls disproportionately represented? How does this novel offer us something different that may actually be closer to the lived experiences of girls and women? One group may also want to interview older women in different decades of their lives, to find out if they are still friends with the girls they were friends with in middle school, what they recall about those relationships, and how those relationships continue to play a part in their lives. Have students contribute to a class blog/website or create a VoiceThread on this topic presenting their various findings.

Public Shaming and Redemption. Em, an athletic seventh grader, begins to trade suggestive photos with 8th grader Patrick via text message. She is publicly shamed when one of those pictures, of Em in her mother’s black lacy bra, gets published to a social media site. Male and female students call her a slut, but it is only when a picture of Patrick in his underwear also gets posted to the social media site that Em’s locker gets filled with nasty notes. Em believes Patrick when he tells her he didn’t share her photo, and a friendship develops from a flirtation. Bridge and Tabitha remain loyal friends despite their misgivings about and disapproval of her actions. With the help of Patrick, Bridge, Tabitha, and Sherm, Em is able to publicly redeem herself at the school talent show on Valentine’s Day. To what extent is this possible in your school community? What are the ways in which students’ social lives as they are played out on social media impact their school lives? To what extent can students change their reputations once something has gone viral? To what extent is bad publicity still publicity? This could simply be a subject of class discussion, or an idea that students pursue more deeply through journal writing over the course of the year.

Defining Love. At the beginning of the school year, Bridge’s teacher asks all of the seventh graders to define love. At the turning point of the story, the students discover their definitions have become part of the decorations for the Valentine’s Day Talentine Contest. How do your students define love? Perhaps you, too, want to ask them this question in September, and then revisit their definitions closer to Valentine’s Day.

Another Epilogue. What do your students think about the epilogue? Did it confirm their suspicions or ruin their understanding of Sherm and Bridge’s friendship? After discussing their responses, have students write another epilogue that takes place two years after the first epilogue. Have each student focus on one of the characters in the novel. What is s/he doing now, and why? Limit each epilogue to a one to two-page vignette.

Multiple Perspectives. Have students in small book groups that cover a range of novels that include the multiple perspectives of characters. Some of these novels may have alternating first person narratives; others may, like Goodbye Stranger, have alternating perspectives that also vary from first to second to third person narration. Novels to consider are: Same Sun Here (2011), Return to Sender (2009), Witness (2001), Bird in a Box (2011), Wonder (2012), The View from Saturday (1996), The Candy Makers (2010). Have students then try their hand at writing an original short story from two perspectives. Some students may need to write a linear narrative first told from one character’s perspective, and then rewrite pieces to tell it from another character’s perspective.

Comparing Communication in the 20th and 21st Centuries. In Goodbye Stranger, characters of all ages are communicating, as people do now, via text message: Sherm and his grandfather, Bridge and her friends, Em and Patrick, Celeste and her parents. Several key plot points revolve around the use of technology: the texting of provocative pictures to members of the opposite sex, the posting of such pictures to social media sites, and the reality that private online communication is not actually private. How do your middle grade students use texting, emails, and social media sites as forums for communication? How does their use of such technology change depending on the audience (parents, siblings, friends, grandparents)? What role do “old-fashioned” letters (which Sherm writes in response to his grandfather’s texts), notes (like the ones left in Em’s locker, or the carnation slips at Celeste’s high school), journals, and face-to-face spoken conversations have in students’ lives? Have students discuss this in class, and then prepare interview questions to use with their parents, guardians, grandparents, or neighbors about the role of technology in their own middle grade years. In small groups, have students compare and contrast their findings. What has been lost with the advent of digital communication? What has been gained? 

Being 12.  Have your class of seventh graders read Goodbye Stranger. As they read the novel, and/or after completing the book, explore some of the audio podcasts from WNYC’s series Being 12, which focuses on the real lives of twelve year-olds in New York City in 2015. Have students write their own fiction, nonfiction, or poetry about being (by and large) twelve years old. This might be an ideal opportunity to have students conduct “Story Corps”-like interviews of one another and put together a podcast. Or, students could create photo essays of their lives, including selfie portraits, and ruminate on being 12 through accompanying poetry and prose.

Cover Art. Once students have completed this novel, have them explore the cover art in pairs or small groups. What is captured on the cover? Why might the artist, Marcos Chin, have decided to capture this particular moment? What else about the story does the cover art capture? Now, compare that to an earlier draft of the cover art. What has changed, and why might it matter? Finally, have students design their own cover art for the book. 

Middle School in New York City. Some students reading this book actually live in New York City. But what is it like to read about the lives of middle school students in New York City when you live in a suburb or rural area in the United States or anywhere else on the globe? Have students read Goodbye Stranger. Next, have them read one of Stead’s other two middle grade novels set in New York City, Liar and Spy (2012) or the historical novel When You Reach Me (2009) or another middle grade novel set in New York, such as Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (1964), Masterpiece by Elise Broach (2008), After Tupac and D. Foster by Jacqueline Woodson (2008), The Cruisers by Walter Dean Myers (2010), or Wonder by R.J. Palacio (2012). After completing the second novel, have students compare and contrast what they learn about life in New York City. Have them explore audio podcasts from WNYC’s series Being 12, which focuses on what it is like to be twelve years olds in New York City in 2015. Have students compare and contrast the similarities and differences between life as a middle schooler in New York City and life as a middle schooler where you live. As an extension, students could research and write their own short stories set in New York City, focusing on the craft of creating setting.

Goodbye Stranger. What does the title mean? At several points throughout the book, the concept of the stranger and the self as stranger are addressed. What do your students think Stead intended by using this as a title? And, for those of you who are old enough to recall, could the Supertramp song have something to do with it? Have students listen to the song while following along with the lyrics, and make connections to the themes at work in Stead’s book.

Further Explorations

Online Resources

Rebecca Stead’s Official Website

WNYC Public Radio Series: “Being 12,” March 2015

Rudolf, the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Story Corps

Supertramp’s “Goodbye Stranger”

Supertramp’s “Goodbye Stranger” Lyrics

Betsy Bird’s Really Awesome Review of Goodbye Stranger

Books

Alvarez, J. (2009). Return to sender. Knopf.

Broach, E. (2008). Masterpiece. Christy Ottaviano Books.

Fitzhugh, L. (1964). Harriet the spy. Yearling.

Hesse, K. (2001). Witness. Scholastic.

House, S., Vaswani, N. (2011). Same sun here. Candlewick Press.

Konigsburg, E.L. (1996). The view from Saturday. Atheneum.

Mass, W. (2010). The candy makers. Little Brown.

Myers, W.D. (2010). The cruisers. Scholastic.

Palacio, R.J. (2012). Wonder. Knopf.

Pinkney, A. D. (2011). Bird in a box. Little Brown.

Stead, R. (2012). Liar and spy. Wendy Lamb Books.

-----(2009). When you reach me. Wendy Lamb Books.


Woodson, J. (2008). After Tupac and D. Foster. Puffin.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Water is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle

Water is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle
Written by Miranda Paul and Illustrated by Jason Chin
Published by Roaring Brook Press in 2015

All Ages

Book Review

“Drip. / Sip. / Pour me a cup. / Water / is / water/ unless…. // it heats up.” In this simple, yet absorbing nonfiction picture book, Miranda Paul offers readers a liltingly lyrical poem, one that follows the journey of water through cyclical changes and across the seasons. Each double page spread explores a form water can take, all the while moving the reader toward the next change this life sustaining substance may undergo, which is featured after the page turn. The poem’s concluding stanzas highlight humans’ branch in water’s tree of life by connecting water to plant growth to apples to sustenance. “Swig. / Grow big. / Reach for the best. / Apples are apples unless… // they get pressed.” Master illustrator Jason Chin offers a visual narrative to accompany Paul’s poem. Rendered in realistic watercolor and gouache, two children from a bi-racial family play throughout the seasonal changes and across the settings of the natural world, their home, and school, accompanied at times by a multicultural group of friends. A section titled “More About Water” offers an accessible expository presentation of the hydrologic cycle; here, cameo images provide a link between the poem and explanatory text. Gushing with possibilities for classroom exploration, this beautiful picture book is equally strong as an engaging and informative read aloud, as a science text for small group exploration, and as a mentor text for poetry writing.

Teaching Ideas: Invitations for Your Classroom

Grades PreK –  and Up

Written Responses. Invite students to think further about the role that water plays in our lives and the importance of conservation. The youngest students could respond to the book by illustrating and writing a single page describing water and its role in their own lives. These pages could be bound into a class book. Older students may want to experiment with different poetic forms to compose and illustrate a poem in response to the book; their poems could also be bound as a book or posted in the school hallways for all to enjoy.

Storytelling: A Visual Narrative. Invite your students to closely study Jason Chin’s illustrations, which create a visual narrative parallel to Miranda Paul’s poem. Invite younger students to orally narrate the events depicted on the pages. Students in the intermediate grades could dig deeper into the science behind the phase of the water cycle described and depicted, including specific vocabulary in their retelling of the visual image that connects the children of the images with the sensory experiences of their environment. Intermediate and middle grade students could be engaged with a more explicit discussion of story elements, exploring how Chin uses visual information to create narrative elements such a plot, character, and setting.

Finding the Rhymes. Rewrite the poem on a large piece of chart paper or using sentence strips on a pocket chart (see Miranda Paul’s website for the formatting of the poem). Younger students can be invited to identify the rhyming pairs found throughout the poem. The spellings of the words can then be compared in a look at onset and rime.  Older student could be engaged in a conversation about word choice and rhythm, and rhyme in poetry.

The Hydrologic Cycle in Poetry.  Pair a reading of Water is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle with George Ella Lyon’s All the Water in the World in a Duet Model (see our Teaching with Text Sets entry). Engage students in a discussion of the poetic forms used by each of these authors. Compare the information presented in each poem. Discuss the effects of the illustrations and their differences in style and media. How has each of these author/illustrator teams sought to convey scientific understanding in the form of a poem?  

Illustrator Study. Jason Chin’s body of work is fascinating. Gather a collection of books that he has written and illustrated (including CoralReefs, which we featured in a Classroom Bookshelf entry). Create a chart to record students’ observations about his work. Students will immediately note that he sometimes mixes fantasy and nonfiction, creating hybrid texts.

Rain and Water Text Set.  The topics of rain and water are central to an understanding of environmental sustainability. Create an anchor chart with the class that gathers what students know and want to know about water and rain. Read-aloud other texts across genre that explore these topics in a variety of ways including Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre, All the Water in the World by George Ella Lyon, Rain School by James Rumford, One Well: The Story of Water on Earth by Rochelle Strauss, Water Dance by Thomas Locker, A Drop Around the World by Barbara McKinney, A Cool Drink of Water by Barbara Kerley, A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder by Walter Wick. After each read-aloud, return to your class anchor chart to have students add what they learned. View our Teaching with Text Sets entry for more ideas on how to create powerful text sets using a variety of models.

Dramatic Presentation. The poem in this text lends itself to dramatic interpretation, either as on oral reading, or a reading with visual accompaniment in the form of a play or with a backdrop of student created art or photographs. Work with students to practice a dramatic reading of this poem. Consider a public performance for families or the school community.

Cycles and Relationships in Nature. This text provides an introduction to the water cycle through art and poetry. You can extend students' understanding of cycles and relationships by introducing other picture book titles that highlight these concepts. Trout are Made of Trees is another lyrical picture book poem that describes the relationships in a stream ecosystem. Shawn Sheehy’s Welcome to the Neighborwood describes the relationships in a woodland habitat, and Melissa Stewart’s No Monkeys,No Chocolate explores the roles played by various animals in the production of cacao. George Ella Lyon’s All the Water in the World and April Pulley Sayre’s Raindrops Roll both also explore the water cycle.

Grades 3 and Up

Nonfiction Poetry. Study the genre of nonfiction poetry. Explore the works of poet April Pulley Sayre (see our Rah, Rah, Radishes and Raindrops Roll entry), Douglas Florian (see our Poetrees entry), and Joyce Sidman (see our Swirl by Swirl and Winter Bees entries). Discuss the techniques used by these poets to convey their nonfiction content. Invite your students to try their hand at writing nonfiction poetry.

Critical Literacy

Drought. Your students may be attuned to the focus on drought and water conservation that permeate our current news cycle. While this text is a joyous presentation of the role water plays in our lives, older students can be invited to consider the more serious side, the effects of water shortages. Invite a guest speaker from your local water department to discuss local and global patterns in water availability and conservation efforts. What measures, small and large, can people take to alleviate the effects of drought?

Further Exploration

Online Resources

Miranda Paul: Author Website

Jason Chin: Illustrator Website

Politics and Prose Interview: Jason Chin

US Geological Survey: Water Cycle Resources

US Environmental Protection Agency Water Cycle for Kids

Scholastic Water Cycle Resources for Classroom Use

NASA: Droplet and the Water Cycle

National Geographic Education: Water Cycle Encylopedia Entry

National Geographic Freshwater Initiative

National Geographic Water Cycle Video

Bill Nye the Science Guy: Water Cycle Hip Hop Video

Books

Branley, F. (1997). Down comes the rain. Let’s Read and Find Out. Ill. by G. H. Hale. Harper Collins.

Kerley, B. (2006). A cool drink of water. National Geographic Children’s Books.

Locker, T. (2002). Water dance. HMH Books for Young Readers.

Lyon, G.E. (2011). All the water in the world. Ill. by L. Tillotson. Atheneum.

McKinney, B. (1998). A drop around the world. Dawn Publications.

Morrison, G. (2006). A drop of water. Houghton Mifflin.

Rumford, J. (2010). Rain school. HMH Books for Young Readers.

Sayre, A.P. (2008). Trout are made of trees. Ill. by K. Endle. Charlesbridge.

Sayre, A.P. (2015). Raindrops roll. Beach Lane Books

Shaefer, L. (2001). This is the rain. Ill. by J. Wattenberg. Greenwillow Books.

Strauss, R. (2007). One well: The story of water on Earth. Kids Can Press.

Waldman, N. (2003). The snowflake: A water cycle story. Millbrook Press.

Wells, R. (2006). Did a dinosaur drink this water? Whitman.

Wick, W. (1997). A drop of water: A book of science and wonder. Scholastic.