Posts Tagged ‘school life’

Bullies Never Win – an anti bullying picture book by Margery Cuyler

Posted on December 11th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

cover art for Bullies Never Win, an anti bullying picture book
Bullies Never Win written by Margery Cuyler and illustrated by Arthur Howard
Anti bullying picture book published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Jessia and Brenda are in the same first-grade class. In Jessica’s eyes, Brenda is perfect. Her hair is perfect, her homework is perfect and her clothes are perfect. Jessica is a worrier. She is frustrated by her clothing, her knees, her barrettes and making mistakes at school but mostly she is frustrated by Brenda’s bullying.

If Jessica got all her homework right, Brenda would say, “I bet you cheated.” So Jessica hid her homework.
If Jessica wore a new skirt to school, Brenda would say, “Your legs look like toothpicks.” So Jessica started wearing pants.
If Jessica scored at kickball, Brenda would say, “You were just lucky.” So Jessica stopped playing kickball.

Finally Jessica reaches the breaking point and she tells her mom about the bullying she is enduring at school. Mom encourages Jessica to tell her teacher about the bullying. Jessica is not sure that is the solution. She spends a sleepless night, trying to decide on the best strategy. Finally, Jessica decides to tell Brenda that Bullies Never Win!”

At last, Jessica can stop worrying and relax. She has spoken her mind and silenced her bully.

Mr. Howard’s illustrations, especially those of the characters’ facial expressions are a highlight of this excellent anti bullying picture book.

Written from the perspective of the victim, this resource is recommended for kindergarten and older children.

Add this anti bullying picture book to your bookshelf –

Bullies Never Win at Amazon.com

Bullies Never Win at Amazon.ca

Lesson plans for Bullies Never WIn

Literature unit from edHelper.com

Lesson plan from Spoken Arts Media

Bully vs Friend activity from Scholastic

Looking after Louis, An Autism Picture Book Highlighting Inclusion

Posted on December 3rd, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Cover Art for Looking After LouisLooking After Louis written by Lesley Ely and illustrated by Polly Dunbar
Autism picture book highlighting inclusion published by Albert Whitman & Company

You will also be interested in our page featuring picture books about Autism and Asperger Syndrome

When a new boy arrives at school, he is partnered with a girl who notices that he is not like the other children in the class. He often just sits and stares at the wall. If I ask him what he’s looking at, he says, “Looking at,” and keeps on looking.

Louis tries using his new friend’s crayons but she can’t decide what he is drawing and he can’t say. When they go outside for recess, Louis runs around with outstretched arms. He runs through the boys’ soccer game and annoys the players. When invited to join the children who are climbing on a tire, Louis does not move. He just stands and watches.

In the classroom, Louis sometimes echoes his Miss Owlie’s instructions. His classmates laugh when he sounds like her. His partner notes that he is granted more leeway to speak out than others would be given.

When one of the children arrives at school with a new soccer ball, Louis shows interest. His classmates join in the game and, each time Louis touches the ball, he is encouraged. Later in the day, Louis and the boy with the soccer ball are allowed to escape the classroom and enjoy an impromptu game.

When Louis’ partner talks with Miss Owlie about Louis, she asserts,

“I think we’re allowed to break rules for special people.”
Miss Owlie put her finger to her lips and nodded a tiny little nod that nobody saw but me.
We peeped through the classroom window at Sam and Louis’s Great Game… and I felt special, too.

An afterword, written by Kori Levos Skidmore, Ph.D. provides information about the advantages of inclusion for all children.

Readers will be interested to consider Inclusion vs Seclusion: A Review of Looking After Louis published in Disability Studies Quarterly. While Ms. Hirad’s comments are interesting, I am not sure that I agree with them. When Louis repeats his teacher’s instructions to, “Sit up straight, everybody.” The children laugh because he sounded just like Miss Owlie. The text does not imply that the children are laughing at Louis, they are laughing because he sounded like his teacher. In a happy, relaxed and tolerant classroom, this would seem to be a natural reaction. When Louis runs through the boys’ soccer game, one of the boys yells at him. Again, while not an ideal reaction, this is likely a typical response to the interruption of a recess soccer game. Finally, Ms. Hirad seems concerned that the classroom teacher has not labelled Louis as autistic. Surely, we do not require labels or even explanations in order to show understanding and tolerance.

Looking After Louis is written from the perspective of a classmate.

Looking after Louis at Amazon.com

Looking After Louis at Amazon.ca


Our School Book Fair – A winning opportunity

Posted on December 2nd, 2012 by Jody

Cover art for Line ChangeToday was the end of the Book Fair at our school. I love the Book Fair (perhaps a little too much). I love walking in and just browsing the tables, running my hand over the covers (I’m sure the librarian loves that), reading the backs of the novels, flipping through the picture books, and seeing all of the different books, just sitting there, waiting to be chosen.

I had already made several purchases this week and had promised myself I would not buy anymore. Luckily, I was able to keep that promise because at the end of every book fair, one student wins $25.00 worth of books for their family and $25.00 worth of books for their classroom. That student was in my class this year.

I’m sure it was mostly amusing to the students to see how excited I was over the books, but it was genuine, so it’s okay. Winning something always feels good; winning books felt great. I took two students with me and we chose a ‘boy book’, a ‘girl book’ and a ‘class book’. Truthfully, I think all three books will be enjoyed, regardless of gender. It was very gratifying to have students pick out books they thought we’d all like. Was it just the cover that appealed? Was it the synopsis? The author? In the end, I think it was a combination. An inviting cover always gets your attention. A good summary of what the book is about will make you want to know more.

Cover art for Genius FilesWe chose Line Change by W.C. Mack, The Genius Files by Dan Gutman and Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu. Having two students help me choose made me realize how much they are learning about each other. It’s one thing for me to know them and find ways to help them achieve success, but it was very powerful for me to realize that they know their classmates as well. They chose Line Change because they know a couple of the boys are reluctant readers but love hockey. They chose Breadcrumbs because they thought we might all enjoy it as a teacher read aloud. We also started learning about fables and morals in fairytales today so it was very fitting (Breadcrumbs starts with Hazel and Jack, best friends, who meet some trouble in the woods. It is based on a Hans Christian Anderson story). The Genius Files was a rather amusing pick; it does sound like a funny story but really, they chose it because the main characters are named Pepsi and Coke. I may have a slight addiction to Diet Pepsi that my students like to tease me about. They decided it was a must have for our class. I guess they know their teacher pretty well too.

Cover art for BreadcrumbsBack in the class, we excitedly shared our choices. The student who actually won, shared his $25.00 with his brother. This boy had fun picking out his book, even though reading might not be his top choice activity because he was caught up in the class excitement. Both he and his younger brother chose a novel and some fun scholastic trinkets.

So, because of my natural enthusiasm for 1) winning anything and 2)  reading, the students had the opportunity to get caught up in the simple pleasure of books. They took part in adding to our classroom library after considering our class needs. As most of the class had to stay behind while we visited the Book Fair, I left with the expectation that I would return to a quiet room. A bit surprisingly (they’re ten year olds), I did! They were quietly, and patiently, waiting to find out what we bought. I know that on Monday, when the students who were away today return, they will relive that enthusiasm and want to share our new books.

It’s good for kids to see us enjoy something and be excited. Having it be related to reading is a bonus.

 

Bullying Stopped by Tiny Katie Sue – Alexis O’Neill’s The Recess Queen

Posted on November 20th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

anti bullying picture book cover The Recess QueenThe Recess Queen written by Alexis O’Neill and illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith
Anti bullying picture book published by Scholastic Canada

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

MEAN JEAN was Recess Queen and nobody said any different.
Nobody swung until Mean Jean swung.
Nobody kicked until Mean Jean kicked.
Nobody bounced until Mean Jean bounced.

Mean Jean is a playground bully. At recess, she commands all those around her. She controls the swings, the soccer ball and the basketball.

One day, a new girl arrives at school. Tiny Katie Sue is completely unaware of Mean Jean’s position of authority at the playground. Katie Sue does not wait to be told what to do. She swings and she kicks and she bounces. When challenged by Mean Jean, Katie Sue asks, “How DID you get so bossy?”

Before long, there is a showdown between Mean Jean and Katie Sue. When Katie Sue pulls a jump rope from her pocket, she invites Mean Jean to skip with her.

Repetitious text, delicious wordplay and bright, energetic illustrations highlight a terrific anti bullying book that begs to be read aloud. Recommended for children aged four and up.

Add this anti bullying picture book to your bookshelf –

The Recess Queen at Amazon.com

The Recess Queen at Amazon.ca



The Cost of Being “In” – Two of a Kind by Jacqui Robbins

Posted on November 19th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Two of a Kind written by Jacqui Robbins and illustrated by Matt Phelan
Anti bullying picture book published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Simon and Schuster

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Kayla and Melanie love to work together on projects. They are very much alike and sometimes they dress the same way. At recess, they sit together on the jungle gym. They don’t want anyone else to join them.

Anna and Julisa also like to be partners at school. They both wear glasses and sometimes they laugh so hard that their glasses fall off. At recess, Anna and Julisa sit together. They are friendly and would be happy to have any of their classmates join them.

In class, Kayla and Melanie sometimes make fun of the other children and, one day, they make fun of Julisa and her glasses. When Anna is unexpectedly partnered with Melanie for a science project, she is able to share her knowledge.

Melanie says I am so smart. She says maybe I am cool after all…
“Hey,” she says, pulling my arm away from the mess. “Do you want to play with us?”

Like magic, Anna is invited to sit with Kayla and Melanie at recess. Anna’s two new companions laugh at Julisa and continue to exclude her.

Fortunately, Anna pauses to consider her relationship with Julisa and before long she realizes where true friendship and her loyalty lies.

Two of a Kind is a thought-provoking depiction of how easily children can be lured by the desire to be popular and how difficult it is to be outcast. Sure to prompt discussions about friendship, loyalty and standing up for what is right, it is best suited to readers aged five and up.

Readers will be interested to know that Matt Phelan also illustrated Susan Patron’s The Higher Power of Lucky and Betty G. Birney’s The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs – two of my favourite novels for middle grade readers.

Add this anti bullying picture book to your bookshelf –

Two of a Kind at Amazon.com

Two of a Kind at Amazon.ca


Slob by Ellen Potter …not what you think

Posted on November 9th, 2012 by Jody

Storytime Standouts' guest contributor writes about sharing Slob by Ellen Potter with her grade five class.Slob by Ellen Potter
Middle grade chapter book about bullying published by Philomel



Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

It’s risky, but I like to start my school year out by reading a book to my class that I have not read. I look for a book in the right age range with topics that are current and important. This year, I started with Slob by Ellen Potter. It’s about a 12 year old boy, Owen,  who is known for being the fattest kid in the school. You can easily predict, at this point, that a central theme is bullying. But there’s more to it than that; Potter weaves the themes of finding yourself, teenage relationships, and heartbreak into the overarching theme of bullying.

I found that there were parts that were a bit ‘technical’, for lack of a better term; Owen is building a machine to view an event that happened two years ago. We don’t know what and we don’t know why, but we know that building this machine he calls Nemesis, is what drives him. There were times when the character was trying to stream video, capture signals, and pinpoint specific moments according to satellite images. As a read aloud, I found myself having to break these things down for my grade 5’s because they couldn’t re read on their own to increase their understanding.

Having said that, the author included a number of twists that I just did not expect. One of the conversations we had, as a class, was about what surprised us most; there were many things. She did a great job weaving the themes together, keeping us hooked, and connecting us to the characters. We were invested. The kids wanted a resolution for Owen. The book also taught them that sometimes the outcome we want is not what we get, but we need to learn to live with that, as Owen did.

An interesting story line was about Owen’s sister. Her name is actually Caitlin but because she is part of a group called GWAB (Girls who are boys), so she is called Jeremy throughout the book. It’s not entirely clear why these girls want to be boys; they dress like boys, protest, and change their names, but the issues they’re fighting are not the forefront of the book. As Jeremy shows us though, it’s not just about an identity crisis; it’s about finding a place for yourself during those years when you feel so out of place. Added to that feeling, for Jeremy and for Owen, is the night two years ago that defines who they are right this minute.

As a teacher, the most disturbing part of the book was the bullying that occurred at the hands of Owen’s PE teacher. He was a horrible person and their are some truly cringe worthy moments in the book. And yes, the students asked if teachers would ever do some of those things. While I’d like to believe that such terrible things never happen; we know they do. So what I told them was, yes, adults can be bullies too. Adults can make poor choices and bad decisions. But there’s always an adult you can trust and turn to. Regardless of who is bullying you (and Owen is bullied by many), it’s essential that you get help. A bully is a bully. Just because that bully may be old enough to truly know better, doesn’t mean they make the right choices. Owen stood up to Mr. Wooly in the end. He should have asked for help rather than facing this alone. I hope the students in my class know that there’s always someone who will stand up for them. A parent, teacher, friend…anyone; just someone who will stand next to them and have their back. Ellen Potter did a really good job of navigating the relationships of the main character, showing that sometimes the people you can rely on, are not  the ones you thought they’d be.

Slob at Amazon.com

Slob at Amazon.ca

Anti Bullying Chapter Book – Song Lee and the “I Hate You Notes”

Posted on November 7th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Song Lee and the “I Hate You” Notes written by Suzy Kline and illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz
Anti bullying chapter book (reprint) published by Puffin

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Suzy Kline has written many books for young readers. She writes about school life, family life and social situations in chapter book series that feature Horrible Harry, Song Lee and
Herbie Jones.

In Song Lee and the “I Hate You” Notes, Mary has been staying up late. She is tired when she arrives at school and she is grumpy for most of the day.

Everyone laughed but Mary. She was too busy biting and chewing on her braid. Her rotten mood was as mean and angry as the dark clouds gathering outside our classroom window.

I could tell something bad was going to happen.

I hoped it was just a storm.

Doug’s intuition is correct. Not only is a storm brewing outside, there is one developing inside Miss Mackle’s classroom. Mary is upset with Song Lee and leaves two notes on her desk. Harry and Doug see Song Lee open the notes. They quietly retrieve the notes from a garbage can and read them. They are reluctant to “tattle” but they can see that Song Lee is upset. Harry speaks quietly to Miss Mackle and she is grateful for the information he provides. She has the perfect solution: she reaches for a picture book. Lovable Lyle by Bernard Waber has just the right message for Mary and her classmates.

Best suited to children in grades two and three, Song Lee and the “I Hate You” Notes realistically depicts both the bully and her victim and encourages bystanders to get involved and enlist the assistance of an adult.

Song Lee and the I Hate You Notes at Amazon.com

Song Lee and the I Hate You Notes at Amazon.ca

Lovable Lyle at Amazon.com

Lovable Lyle at Amazon.ca


Anti bullying book for beginning readers: Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl

Posted on November 4th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart


Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl written by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser and Ted Enik
Anti bullying book for beginning readers published by Harper Collins Children’s

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl is part of Harper Collins Children’s I Can Read series. Ranked by Harper Collins as “Beginning Reading Level 1,” it is generously illustrated and includes words such as appetite, splendid, speechless and canceled.

Field Day is just around the corner. Most of Nancy’s classmates are excited about the upcoming races but Nancy is not. She is dreading Field Day because she is not good at running and last year, when her team lost, she was teased. When Nancy discovers that Grace is on her team, she is doubly concerned. Grace is sometimes mean.

Nancy trains hard for the relay race but her training is too little. too late. She decides a different tactic might work. She pretends she has injured her foot and she begins limping. Nancy’s dad is not convinced by her limp and he questions her about it. Finally, Nancy confides and explains why she is upset.

After a conversation with her dad, Nancy feels better and she approaches Field Day and Grace with a plan. She speaks to Grace

“I will run as fast as I can.
But if we lose,
don’t say mean stuff.
You are a good runner.
But you are not a good sport.”

Fans of the Fancy Nancy series are sure to enjoy this anti bullying book for beginning readers. The story is engaging. Both Nancy’s problem and the outcome are realistic. Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl could lead to discussions of teasing and bullying as well as sportsmanship and doing one’s best in a difficult situtation.

Recommended for children aged six and up.
Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl at Amazon.com

Fancy Nancy And The Mean Girl at Amazon.ca

Note – my copy of Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl is a (hardcover) First Edition, copyrighted 2011. There is a typo on page 16: “That’s means I’m not hungry”


A picture book about teasing and acceptance, Yoko by Rosemary Wells

Posted on October 31st, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Yoko written and illustrated by Rosemary Wells

Picture book about teasing and acceptance

published by Hyperion Books for Children

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

When Yoko’s mom packs her favourite things for lunch, Yoko happily boards the school bus and enjoys the morning with her classmates. At lunchtime,

Yoko opened the willow-covered cooler. Inside was her favourite sushi. Tucked in the rice rolls were the crispiest cucumber, the pinkest shrimp, the greenest seaweed, and the tastiest tuna.

When a classmate notices Yoko’s lunch, he remarks, “What’s in your lunch? … Ick! It’s green! It’s seaweed!”

Poor Yoko, before long all of her classmates are laughing about the food in her lunch and she is heartbroken. Fortunately, her teacher, Mrs. Jenkins is alert to the problem and she devises a solution. She announces there will be an International Food Day at Yoko’s school.

Sadly, on the day of the special event, all her classmates avoid Yoko’s sushi. Finally, Timothy gives it a try. He loves the delicious sushi and he’d like to eat it again the following day. Yoko has found a friend. The following day, they push their desks together and enjoy a lovely lunch.

Yoko is a heartwarming picture book about teasing and acceptance. It lends itself well to discussions about tolerance and celebrating our differences. Yoko will appeal to children in preschool and kindergarten.

For fans of this book, Yoko also appears in Yoko’s Show and Tell, Yoko Writes Her Name, Yoko’s Paper Cranes.

Add this anti bullying picture book to your bookshelf –

Yoko at Amazon.com

Yoko at Amazon.ca

Watch Yoko


Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome

Posted on October 27th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome, a picture book about a young boy who is diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome.Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome written by Clarabelle van Niekerk and Liezl Venter, illustrated by Clarabelle van Niekerk
Picture book about a child with Asperger Syndrome published by Skeezel Press



You will also be interested in our page featuring picture books about Autism and Asperger Syndrome

Sam, his sister Emma and their parents live in a house with a red door. Sam was a happy boy but he was a little different. We follow Sam through his week and learn that he has difficulty making friends, he can become “stuck” and reluctant to change. Sam notices when his clothes feel scratchy and when his classmates tease him. He finds being in school challenging at times.

One evening, without his parents knowing, Sam leaves his house and walks away. His family worries as they scramble to find him and to keep him safe. This incident, together with his difficulties at school, precipitates a visit to the doctor. Sam is assessed and, before long, the family learns that Sam has Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism.

Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome is an appropriate story for children in preschool, kindergarten and early primary grades. It provides readers with perspective on the challenges faced by Sam, his family and his classmates. As well, Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome celebrates Sam’s abilities.

At the conclusion of the story, readers are offered 10 Helpful Tips including Treat your friend as a regular kid, take turns, and “change is hard, hang in there.” The tips are each accompanied by a one or two paragraph explanation.

Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome was a Seal of Approval Winner Holiday 2008 from The National Parenting Center

It was also nominated for Speech Pathology Australia’s Book of the Year in the lower primary category

Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome at Amazon.com

Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome at Amazon.ca

Another new start…

Posted on October 9th, 2012 by Jody

Still searching for “my” reluctant reader this year…but I have a plan

Unbelievably, we are already six weeks into another school year. I enjoyed writing Journey of a Reluctant Reader last year, but like to switch things up. I am still looking for “my” reluctant reader this year, but so far, seem to have a very enthusiastic class when it comes to reading (even if I happen to be teaching at the time).

After a great workshop by Cindy Strickland last summer, I used Reading and Writing Bingo in my classroom last year. I used it term by term and the students had a goal to work toward. This year, I am focusing on the Reading Bingo as a preemptive strike against anyone showing signs of becoming a reluctant reader. Each of the Bingo squares has a specific reading goal that, when met, will introduce the students to different types of writing, different authors, and different genres. For example, some of the goals include reading a novel by Andrew Clements (that you have not read before), or reading a book of poetry by Shel Silverstein. The goal is to expose the kids to new styles and authors that they may not have tried otherwise.

And yes, my preemptive strike involves bribes. We all work a little harder with incentives and I see nothing wrong with showing appreciation for hard work in different ways. So for one Bingo line (which is necessary for their reading marks for each term) they receive a small prize from the prize bin. For an X, they receive a “get out of one assignment free” card. For a 7, they get a Scholastic book. What surprised me, and pleased me, was that when I asked the kids what they thought would be an awesome reward if anyone got a Blackout, they didn’t say Slurpees or movie days. Instead, they suggested that if they get a Blackout, they get three more of the prizes they already received. So if a student does get a Blackout, they basically get 2 prize bin items, 2 get out of one assignment cards, and 2 books from Scholastic.

I’ll see how this works this year and maybe do it again, or maybe not. What I love is that the kids (and I know there’s at least one reluctant reader there, even if they’re quiet about it) are already excited about reading. They know they have to read, most of them love to read, but those that need a little nudge will be more inclined to do so, even if it’s just to achieve the line. Those that are enthusiastic about reading by default, have the added opportunity and challenge of working toward a harder goal, like the Blackout.

My focus this year is getting the kids to understand themselves and their own learning. This will be a great opportunity for me and the students to see what motivates them. We are all motivated by something. Intrinsic motivation is essential and I am in no way suggesting reward for meeting expectations, but I think that extrinsic motivation has its place as well. I’m going to make them read. They know this. I’m going to make them do Math and Science, tests, reports, and research. They will do this because they undersand their jobs as students. But if providing a bit of fun, entertainment, or challenge gets them reading even more, perhaps their journey will be one with less reluctance and more enjoyment.

I hate when things are over…summer reading beckons

Posted on June 28th, 2012 by Jody

Storytime Standouts’ guest contributor reflects on the school year and looks forward to summer reading



One of my favourite lines from the song Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Deep Blue Something is “And I hate when things are over/ when so much is left undone”. At the moment, it sums up how I feel about the end of the school year. Though I look forward to the summer, the break, the rest, and the, hopefully, nice weather, I know I’ll spend time thinking of all the things I didn’t manage to do this year.

Rather than think about all of the things I could have done better or more of, I thought I’d recount some of my favourite books from this year and share my summer “to read” list. The books I like most from this year are the ones that excited the kids. So while they may not have been MY favourite books, the following is a list of books that engaged my students, hooked my reluctant readers, and caused many classroom discussions.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies

Warriors by Erin Hunter (actually a pseudonym for a number of contributing authors)

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Runny Babbit by Shel Silverstein

Wayside Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar

Holes by Louis Sachar

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

The Fire Ascending by Chris D’Lacey

There were others. Many, many others. My students from this year loved to read. They read a variety of genres and authors and tried books their friends loved or that I suggested. They were open to new books and different types of writing, such as Poetry.

Tomorrow I will say goodbye to this group and in September, I will have a new class. I look forward to the reading adventures they will take me on and the books they will introduce me to. Of course, I have a few of my own that I plan on introducing them to as well. Some I have read already, such as Riding Freedom, but others, I will read over the summer. My “to read” list for this summer includes:

My life as a Book by Janet Tashjian

Slob by Ellen Potter

United We Stand by Eric Walters

Middle School, the Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson

The Little Prince by Antoine de Sainte-Exupery

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling (I’ve read this one but am looking forward to reading it to my nine year old this summer).

I could go on…and on…and on because there are so many different books I’d like to read before the summer ends. However, in addition to Children and Young Adult fiction, I plan on reading a number of other books as well. So here’s to a summer of reading, re reading, and relaxing.

I’m Here by Peter H. Reynolds

Posted on April 2nd, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at I'm Here by Peter H. Reynolds, a picture book that encourages children to embrace those with autism spectrum.I’m Here written by Peter H. Reynolds





You will also be interested in our page featuring picture books about Autism and Asperger Syndrome

Written with a goal of encouraging children and adults to reach out, embrace, and appreciate children in the autism spectrum as well as anyone who is different from ourselves, I’m Here suggests that young readers rethink their ideas about a child who prefers solitude or who is not skillful at social interactions.

At recess, a young boy sits, by himself. The loud, playground voices are too much for him, I hear it all like one big noise. A big drum. Boom. Boom. Boom Boom.

Sitting away from the crowd he feels the touch of the wind, notices a floating leaf. When a piece of paper lands near him, he knows, This is not where the paper wants to be.” He folds the paper into an airplane and launches it heavenward. Soon, the young boy is flying in the plane, exhuberant at the adventure.

A thoughtful, metaphorical picture book, I’m Here explores themes of friendship and acceptance and encourages children to look for opportunities to smile and be a friend.

I’m Here at Amazon.com

I’m Here at Amazon.ca

April 2, 2012 is World Autism Awareness Day

The Juice Box Bully – Anti Bullying Picture Book

Posted on February 28th, 2012 by Jody

The Juice Box Bully; Empowering Kids to Stand up for Others written by Bob Sornson and Maria Dismondy and illustrated by Kim Shaw
Published by Ferne Press | Nelson Publishing and Marketing LLC



Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Teaching a grade four/five class means that you have to find a balance between capturing their attention but not “babying” them. They are intermediates and want to be treated as such. I don’t think there’s an age limit on picture books; if there is, I’ve personally surpassed it and I’m okay with that. Some of the best messages children will ever get come from picture books and kids truly enjoy them. I read a book tonight that I think strikes the balance between giving an appropriate kid friendly message while appealing to the intermediate audience. The Juice Box Bully; Empowering Kids to Stand up for Others talks about being a bystander, or rather, not being a bystander. The kids in Mr. Peltzer’s class have all made a promise to their teacher, and each other, that they will not bully and they will not allow others to be bullied.

This month especially, with Pink Shirt Day (Bullying Awareness Day) being tomorrow, we focus on what bullying is, how to prevent it, and how to stand up against it. Being a bystander means that you are not involved in the bullying but you witness it. Research has shown that all three groups, the bully, the victim, and the bystander/witness have long term emotional repercusions from the bullying experience. It is not easy for kids to witness bullying, particularly if it is a friend being bullied.

The charming part of The Juice Box Bully is that the entire class agrees to stand by each other. The new student, Pete, has been bullied before and figures that if he intimidates others first, he’ll be safer. The students continuously invite Pete to be a part of their classroom family, even when his behavior does not warrant the invitation. A “juice box incident” leads one student, Ruby, to forget her class promise and she insists that she will make life at his new school hard for Pete, now that he’s upset her. Her classmates tell Ruby that they will not let her fall into that trap; they will not let her bully Pete through isolation or rumors. Likewise, they insist that they will not allow Pete to continue to harass their friend. Pete is humbled by the fact that the other students stood up for him, even though he had been cruel.

The Juice Box Bully shares a powerful message of what it can be like if kids stood together to reach a goal or make a difference. It’s a great connection to the story of two boys who really did band together and make a difference. David Shepherd and Travis Price took action against bullies when they organized a protest with students wearing pink shirts to stand up for another student who had been bullied because he wore pink. They chose not to be bystanders, but upstanders.

Social media and the internet have added a new facet to bullying, but the message from The Juice Box Bully still applies; make a promise, work together, and do your part to stop bullying. To find out more about Pink Shirt Day, visit www.pinkshirtday.ca.

Add this anti bullying picture book to your bookshelf –

The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to0 Stand Up For Others at Amazon.com

The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand Up for Others at Amazon.ca


The publisher offers a free printable The Juice Box Bully Resource Kit

Anti Bullying Chapter Book – Joshua T. Bates in Trouble Again

Posted on February 28th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

You may also be interested in our page about anti-bullying picture books and novels for children, our page about anti bullying web resources or our posts tagged “anti bullying”.

Storytime Standouts looks at an anti bullying chapter book by Susan Shreve, Joshua T. Bates in Trouble AgainJoshua T. Bates in Trouble Again written by Susan Shreve and illustrated by Roberta Smith
Anti bullying chapter book published by Knopf Books for Young Readers | Random House





The day after Thanksgiving is extra special for Joshua T. Bates. It it the day he will move to a grade four class. Joshua had a tough time in grade three and he was not ready to move to grade four with his friends. He spent the first three months of the school year working to catch up. He spent hours and hours with his grade three teacher and now he is ready for the academic challenges of grade four.

Dealing with the other grade four boys will be a big adjustment for Joshua. He chooses his wardrobe carefully and takes great care to style his hair properly but, despite this, he lacks confidence about how he will manage.

“Maybe I won’t have any friends at all,” Joshua said.

“You have friends already, darling,” his mother said. “In a flash things will be back to normal, just like it was when all of you were in the third grade together.”

“Maybe,” Joshua said.

But he was sick with worry.

Joshua’s fears are not unfounded.Tommy Wilhelm and Billy Nickel are feared by all of the grade four boys. They are bullies and Joshua knows it. Joshua hopes he can avoid trouble with the bullies if he appears “cool.” It is not long before he makes more than one poor choice in order to impress the bullies. It is no surprise when he finds himself in trouble at school and at home.

A one hundred page anti bullying chapter book for middle grade readers, Joshua T. Bates in Trouble Again will have special appeal for boys. It will also appeal to reluctant readers.

Joshua T. Bates in Trouble Again at Amazon.com

Joshua T. Bates in Trouble Again at Amazon.ca


Anti Bullying Picture Book – The Bully Blockers Club

Posted on February 27th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at The Bully Blockers Club. an anti bullying picture book by Teresa BatemanThe Bully Blockers Club written by Teresa Bateman and illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic
Published by Albert Whitman & Company



Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Lotty Raccoon is excited to begin a new school year. She leaves her house with new shoes, new backpack and a positive outlook. Moments after she sits at her new desk, Grant Grizzly begins his taunting, “I’m Grant Grizzly and I say there’s a smell, and it’s coming from around you.”

Lotty does not react immediately. She talks with her siblings after school. Lotty’s younger brother suggests a karate chop could be the answer and her older sister suggests ignoring him. Lotty is not interested in the “karate chop” solution but she thinks ignoring Grant Grizzly might work.

The following day, Lotty ignores Grant Grizzly but unfortunately, the abuse continues. After further discussion at home, Lotty’s sister suggests that Lotty try to be Grant’s friend while her brother suggests joking about it. She tries both approaches without success. The next step is to get Lotty’s mom and dad involved. They contact Lotty’s teacher and she promises to be watchful but, whenever her back is turned, Grant continues his bullying.

Finally, after noticing that Grant only bullies when adults are not watching, Lotty arrives at a creative and very empowering solution to her problem. She enlists the help of her friends whenever Grant picks on someone.

That afternoon, when Grant grabbed Lotty’s crayons, Barney said, “Hey, what are you doing?”

“Yeah,” said Laurie. “Those aren’t yours.”

By now everyone, including Mrs. Kallberg was watching.”

Grant turned red, and handed the crayons back.

The Bully Blockers Club’s bold illustrations are well-suited to sharing in a group setting. The facial expressions effectively depict the emotions of the bully, the bullied and the bystanders.

After Notes include suggestions for parents and teachers including a description of the “TELL IT system.” This anti bullying system suggests children should

  • Think before they react
  • Express themselves by stating how they feel
  • Leave the situation
  • Laugh
  • Ignore
  • Tell an adult

The After Notes also suggest that Lotty’s decision to create a supportive group can be an effective way to curtail bullying.

The Bully Blockers Club is best suited to children aged five and up.

The Bully Blockers Club at Amazon.com

The Bully Blockers Club at Amazon.ca


Eddie Longpants – Anti Bullying Picturebook

Posted on February 25th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at anti bullying picture book about teasing, coping with bullies, celebrating differences and self acceptance

Storytime Standouts looks at an anti bullying picture book, Eddie Longpants by Mireille Levert.Eddie Longpants written by Mireille Levert
Anti bullying picture book published by House of Anansi Press Inc. | Groundwood Books



Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Eddie is much, much taller than his classmates and his teacher. He is far too big for his school. At recess time, he endures endless name-calling and teasing. He deals with the abuse by isolating himself, he stands near a tall tree and is visited by happy, chirping birds.

When Eddie’s mom arrives for a visit with the teacher, Miss Snowpear promptly climbs onto the roof.

Miss Snowpea and Mrs. Longpants talk. They look each other straight in the eye. They say nice things. They smile big smiles. They shake hands.”

The two adults model good behavior despite their differences in stature.

At recess time the following day, the teasing resumes but this time Pete makes comments about Eddie’s mom and this time Miss Snowpea overhears the insults,

She feels anger rising inside her, It makes her insides growl and her toes curl up. All this because Eddie is big!

Pete knows that he is in trouble. He wants to escape so he climbs up, up, up into a very tall tree. Suddenly, he realizes what he has done and he is frightened. He needs help to get back down from the tree.

Eddie Longpants is an anti bullying picture book that is best suited to children four and up. It delivers a lovely message about acceptance and is sure to prompt a discussion about teasing and ways to deal with it.

Ms. Levert’s illustrations are warm and engaging. She makes great use of each two-page spread to show us just how tall Eddie, his mom and his dad are.

Eddie Longpants at Amazon.com

Eddie Longpants at Amazon.ca

Anti Bullying Chapter Book – Jake Drake Bully Buster

Posted on February 22nd, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Jake Drake offers readers ways to deal with bullying

Jake Drake Bully Buster written by Andrew Clements
Anti bullying chapter book published by Aladdin Paperbacks, Simon and Schuster

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

If everybody who works at school is so smart, how come they can’t get rid of the bullies? How come when it comes to bullies, kids are mostly on their own?

From the time he was in daycare, Jake Drake has encountered bullies of one kind or another. When he was three, a bully not only stole his cookies, he forced him off the swing. In kindergarten, Jake knicknamed another bully “King Bump” because he would shove him at inopportune moments. When Jake was a little older, he encounted yet another sort of bullying: the grade one bully liked to hit things near to Jake. Jake lived in fear of “The Fist.”

Jake has given bullying considerable thought. He has decided that he attracts bullies because of his size (he is not too big), the fact he does not have an older sibling, his unwillingness to tattle and the intellectual challenge he represents.

Jake is excited to start grade two and all is well until Link Baxter joins the class. Initially Link torments Jake by shaking his desk during a handwriting lesson. Classroom trouble soon moves to the school bus and Jake is understandably upset by the time he arrives home from school. His younger sister Abby encourages Jake to think about the bully. She points out, Its not fun to feel mean.

Overnight Jake strategizes and decides to “play it cool.” He will not react to Link’s taunting and teasing. He will not show Link that he is bothered. Jake’s plan works until Link takes his bullying to another level and pours water on the front of Jake’s pants. Jake is so angry that his hits his enemy, is sent to the office and must rethink his strategy.

Jake Drake Bully Buster will have considerable appeal for both boys and girls. Author Andrew Clements’ approach, having Jake reflect on all the bullying he has experienced and trying different responses, is very effective. Readers will recognize bullying techniques and will learn a variety of ways to effectively deal with bullying.

Jake Drake Bully Buster is an 80 page, illustrated chapter book that is best suited to children in grades two to four. There are four titles in the Jake Drake series.

Post reading questions and activities from WITS The WITS Program brings together schools, families and communities to help elementary school children deal with bullying and peer victimization.

Jake Drake, Bully Buster at Amazon.com

Jake Drake, Bully Buster at Amazon.ca


Anti Bullying Fiction – How to Tame a Bully

Posted on February 21st, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at an anti bullying chapter book, How to Tame a Bully

Storytime Standouts looks at anti bullying fiction for primary-aged children

How to Tame a Bully written by Nancy Wilcox Richards and illustrated by Drazen Kozjan
Anti bullying chapter book published by Scholastic



Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Lauren is excited to begin grade three. She is thrilled with her teacher and delighted to be in a class with her best friend. Lauren’s happiness dims quickly when she discovers that she is seated next to Bethany.

Bethany is a giant. She is almost as tall as Ms. MacArthur. And that’s when she’s sitting down… Her eyes are always moving. Watching everyone. I know what she is doing. She’s looking for her next victim. Someone she can force to do her homework. Someone she can beat up.

It is not long before Lauren and Bethany tangle. Bethany writes a message about Lauren on a washroom mirror and Lauren responds by giving Bethany a snack tainted with far too much salt and pepper. Bethany calls Lauren “Shrimp”, extorts recess snacks from her and splatters red paint on her new top.

When forced to work together on a school project, Lauren reachers her breaking point. She tells Bethany to stop calling her “Shrimp” and is surprised when Bethany agrees. They manage a temporary cease-fire while working together on their project but it is not until Lauren speaks up again that the relationship improves.

“Because you’re always bullying kids.”

Bethany stared back at me. Hard. Her eyes narrowed. But before she had a chance to say anything and before I ran out of courage, I continued. “You took some little grade one kid’s lunch money. You put gum on Rachael’s seat and she ruined her brand new pants. You threw a big rock through the gym window. And,” my voice started to get louder, “you keep taking my recess snack! That why you don’t have any friends. Bethany, you are just plain mean!”

Rather than resolving the bullying with an unrealistic “magical solution,” author Nancy Wilcox Richards has the girls work out a truce. Bethany’s bullying tactics subside and the girls learn to tolerate each other.

Last year, in our post titled Five Ways Young Children Can Say “No” to Bullying , we referred to Health Canada’s suggestion that one way to reduce bullying is to ask the bully to stop – a tactic that is used with success in How to Tame a Bully.

Suitable for readers in grades two or three, How to Tame a Bully is a 75 page, generously illustrated chapter book that encourages speaking up against bullying.

How to Tame a Bully at Amazon.com

How to Tame a Bully at Amazon.ca


Happy New Year…here’s to starting over with middle grade readers

Posted on January 9th, 2012 by Jody

Guest contributor Jody looks at welcoming middle grade readers back to school in January.

I ended 2011 in the middle or near the end of too many projects. It’s always a dilmena to me; do I start fresh, trying to re-engergize and engage the kids all over, or do I carry on from where we left off and show them the value and necessity in finishing what we start?

I did a little of both. When holidays started, I had only read 1/3 of a book called Lady in a Box, by Ann McGovern. It ties in so nicely to the holiday season, giving, and caring for others. It’s a great way to connect the kids to the outside world and to learn a number of powerful strategies in reading and writing. I was also reading Lemonade War, by Jacqueline Davies, as my read aloud. As well, the students were each in 1 of 5 reading groups, which were not going well. In addition to all of this, we were reading an assortment of Christmas picture books because the kids were creating their own children’s stories.

It’s difficult to walk away from some things, but on the other hand, if the students aren’t getting enough out of it, or if the teaching is not having the effect you thought it would, sometimes it’s better to cut and run. So, I fast tracked Lady in A Box because the story is worthwhile and the message applies to life in general and not just a season. One down. I took the kids out of their reading groups because it was not going at all the way I planned and it was putting some of the kids off reading. Two down. I also gave up on Lemonade War because we have been talking about this book since September and many of the kids had read it. Three down. Then, I had to re-evaluate what it is I want and need the kids to know and decide how to help them get there. Eliminating the first two things was the first step.

The second step was to revitalize and re-energize the students. January is a new year, a fresh start, and in many ways, another September. We have to re-teach and review routines and expectations and we have to “hook” them again. I needed something that would immediately draw them in and help me re-work my book club as well. I found and started Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. I’m going to have to do a whole post dedicated just to Inkheart because it’s so good. For now though, I won’t go into too much detail about the novel. Just let me say that it has given my new year a definite push in the right direction.

The kids are are hooked on the novel (some have read it but are being awesome and not giving any information away). They’re settling into routine quicker because in order to squeeze in a whole chapter each day, I have to start the read aloud right after recess. In addition to this, they’re already, in just four days, becoming more proficient at recognizing and asking lower level questions. What a great start to 2012 in the classroom!!

So, while I was sorry to put Lemonade War aside because I hate to leave things unfinished, I think it’s important to recognize when we need to do just that. Some things just don’t work the way you want them to. Part of learning and being successful, for us and for the students, is knowing when you need to step back and try another route. Sometimes giving up one thing in favor of spending your time and energy on something else is a better way to achieve your goal. For me, I gave up Lemonade War to allow for time to read Inkheart. I gave up my small book club groups to do whole group instruction, which is turning out way better.

So, whether it’s giving up on something, trading off, or trying a completely different approach, the important thing is to keep the end in mind. In the end, I want students to be engaged in what we are reading, to be thoughtful writers, and to know that when something just isn’t working, it’s okay to try a different tactic. We learn by doing. Sometimes what we learn, is that we have to start over. Happy New Year.

The Lady in the Box at Amazon.com

The Lady in the Box at Amazon.ca

Inkheart at Amazon.com

Inkheart at Amazon.ca

More News

Learning the Alphabet

Awake Beautiful Child by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Gracia Lam

Awake Beautiful Child by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Gracia Lam

Awake Beautiful Child written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Gracia ...

Classic Picture Book: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom written by Bill Martin Jr. and ...

Alphabet Recognition Game for Preschool

[caption id="attachment_16404" align="alignleft" width="300"] Diecuts With A View Alphabet Scrapbook ...

Phonemic Awareness

Storytime Standouts Tips for Getting Ready to Read While in the Car

Storytime Standouts Tips for Getting Ready to Read While in the Car

Some of the keys to learning to read are noticing ...

Developing Phonemic Awareness: How’s Your Nose, Rose?

You won't regret using wordplay to support your child's phonemic ...

Phonemic Awareness – Questions for Your Child (2)

The focus of our last few posts has been phonemic ...

Teacher Resources

Fireflies A Writer’s Notebook

Fireflies A Writer’s Notebook

Fireflies A Writer's Notebook by Coleen Murtagh Paratore Journal for writers ...

Loving books can be contagious – Reading Power

It's no secret that we are impacted by the thoughts ...

Story People by Brian Andreas

On a trip through an airport, Jody discovers the work ...

Terrific Chapter Books

Wrapping up the year… 2014 best books for middle grades

Wrapping up the year… 2014 best books for middle grades

I always say this but I can't believe it's the ...

A Middle Grade Teacher’s To Be Read List

It's been a while since I did a top ten ...

Good Things Come In Threes; The Ascendance Trilogy

This isn't a scientific fact but it is a completely ...

Translate »