Posts Tagged ‘video clip’

Loving books can be contagious – Reading Power

Posted on October 14th, 2013 by Jody

Loving Books Can Be Contagious




It’s no secret that we are impacted by the thoughts and actions of others. It starts early in life when we begin to mimic what we see, even as babies. As we get older and move into the preteen and teen ages, what others think matters to us immensely. We want others to like us, to want to be with us and the same goes for them. Someone out there wants you to like them. As I tell my grade five students, we must use this power for good. We have the unique opportunity of impacting many people’s lives every single day for better or for worse. It can be something as simple as a smile or kind words and you’ve made someone’s day better. As parents and as teachers, we need to know that copying what we see, what our children see and might be copying, influences who we become and what matters to us. So we should be asking ourselves, what do we want our children/students to see? To become?

cover art for Reading Power by Adrienne Gear Reading Power: Teaching Students to Think While They Read

Yesterday, I attended, perhaps, the best workshop I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. I was extremely motivated, captivated, and inspired by Adrienne Gear who is the teacher behind “Reading Power”. Her passion led her to develop a different way to approach learners and really help them tackle the other half of reading: the comprehending and connecting part of reading. By the time I left the workshop, I had ideas I wanted to incoprorate into lessons and, even better, some ideas on how to motivate some of my struggling readers. Her enthusiasm and excitement over books brought out mine. I wasn’t the only one. Ms. Gear gave us a list of fabulous books that she loves and finds beneficial in her classroom teaching of the reading powers. After she left, our principal okayed our librarian to buy EVERY ONE OF THE BOOKS. Her excitement caused a ripple effect. That’s what we want to do in the classroom and in our homes.

You may not love reading or books but you want your children to. Reading opens doors that nothing else can. It is this amazing thing that can enrich your life even while it helps you live your life. We need to read. It’s a part of life and it’s vital. But just like working at a job, it’s so much better and so much more effective if you LOVE it. Help your kids love to read. Even if you don’t. Show enthusiasm for reading and for books. Talk about books that you’ve seen or read. Talk about articles in the newspaper or online. Engage in conversation about what’s happening in the real world or a fictional one. Inspire your kids to read something new, try something new. Visit a bookstore or a library. Read a book together. Read a book side by side. Our kids spend their developing years mimicking what they see. Let them see you take part in something that can and does, literally, change lives. Read. It’s contagious.

Reading Power: Teaching Students to Think While They Read at Amazon.com

Reading Power: Teaching Students to Think While They Read at Amazon.ca


Chick-O-Saurus Rex Shines in Anti-bullying Picture Book

Posted on September 30th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

anti bullying picture book Chick O Saurus Rex by Lenore and Daniel JenneweinChick-O-Saurus Rex written by Lenore Appelhans and illustrated by Daniel Jennewein
Anti bullying picture book published by 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

Donkey, Pig and Sheep have formed an elite group and, to the disappointment of the smaller farm animals, they exclude all others from the tree house.

“This is a club for the brave and mighty. First you have to prove you belong.”

Little Chick does his best to gain entrance to the tree house but the bullies refuse to allow him inside. Little Chick asks his father for advice. He learns that his relatives “invented the chicken-dance craze and even… crossed the road.” Being seen as brave and mighty appears hopeless until Little Chick notices a picture of Grandpa Rooster studying a fossil. He is keen to leave the farmyard in search of evidence of his heritage. illustration from Chick O Saurus Rex  an anti bullying picture book

Before long, Little Chick is shocked to discover that Tyrannosaurus Rex is his distant relative and he rushes to share the news with the bullies. When he arrives at the clubhouse, he discovers a wolf is attacking Little Donkey, Little Sheep and Little Pig. Little Chick is quick to dispatch the wolf and, shortly thereafter, all of the farm animals are allowed to climb the ladder and enjoy the treehouse.

An author’s note explains that the chicken is the Tyrannosaurus’ closest living relative and explains how the determination was made by scientists.

Chick-O-Saurus Rex could be used to prompt a discussion about excluding children in social situations and other forms of bullying, it will be enjoyed by children aged four and up.

Chick-o-Saurus Rex at Amazon.com

Chick-o-Saurus Rex at Amazon.ca

Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, shares a simple yet effective antibullying message

Posted on August 29th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

antibullying picture book Bully by Laura Vaccaro SeegerBully written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Antibullying picture book published by Roaring Brook Press


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

Before we reach the title page of Bully, we witness a large bull speaking harshly to a young bull. He tells him to, “GO AWAY”

The young bull does go away. He goes to a different part of the pen where three friends invite him to play. Rabbit, Chicken and Turtle are stunned when he loudly shouts, “NO. Their shock and disappointment is only made worse when the young bull starts name-calling. Spread from Bully an antibullying picture book by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Finally a brave billy goat speaks up and correctly labels the young bull a “Bully.” Bull is shocked to realize that he has been bullying the other farm animals. After pausing to reflect, he apologizes to his friends and asks if they will play with him.

There is much to notice and enjoy in Bully. Young readers will certainly note the young bull’s body language and size when bullying the other animals as opposed to when he realizes his mistakes. Ms. Vaccaro Seeger has depicted his blazing eyes and set jaw beautifully. His anger and frustration is clear.

We also see Bull’s remorse when he realizes his mistakes.

Bully invites discussion about what might cause bullying behavior as well as how the decision to speak up can make a difference. highly recommended for children aged four and up.

Bully at Amazon.com

Bully at Amazon.ca

King of the Playground – Problem Solving a Solution to Bullying

Posted on August 26th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

cover art for antibullying picture book King of the PlaygroundKing of the Playground written by Phyllis Renolds Naylor and illustrated by Nola Langner Malone
Antibullying picture book published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers an imprint of 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

Kevin is hopeful. Each day he heads to the playground, wanting to go down the slide but knowing that if Sammy is there, he won’t be allowed to do so.

“You can’t come!” Sammy said. “I’m King of the Playground!” And he told Kevin what he would do if he saw him on the slide.

Disappointed, Kevin returns home and confides in his dad. His dad listens to the threat that Sammy has made and he encourages Kevin to ask himself, “And what would you be doing while Sammy was tying you up? Just sitting there?”

The following day, Kevin tries again and, again, Sammy is at the playground. When Kevin wants to use one of the swings, Sammy announces,

“You can’t play here!” yelled Sammy, running over. “I’m King of the Swings.” And he told Kevin what he would do if he saw him on the swings.

Once again Kevin shares his problem with his dad and once again his dad challenges him to problem solve.

Kevin’s dad’s approach to bullying is perfect. He remains calm, he doesn’t intervene, he encourages Kevin to think logically and he empowers Kevin to solve the bullying problem himself.

With Dad’s guidance, Kevin realizes that there may be a different way to deal with Sammy and his threats. On his next visit to the playground, Kevin is just a little bit braver. He uses his imagination to counter Sammy’s threats and together the boys find middle ground.

Recommended for children aged four years and up.

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor on reading aloud

King of the Playground at Amazon.com

King of the Playground at Amazon.ca

The False Prince – Delivers Adventure, Mystery and Suspense

Posted on August 21st, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

The False Prince by Jennifer A Nielsen - terrific middle grade fiction



Storytime Standouts recommends terrific middle grade fiction including The False Prince

The False Prince written by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Juvenile fantasy/adventure novel, the first book in The Ascendance Trilogy published by Scholastic

There’s nothing better than enjoying a terrific book while on holidays and I had the good fortune to tuck The False Prince into my bag when we went away last month. We were headed camping and our beach site was gorgeous. It wasn’t long before I sat down on and entered the captivating world of The False Prince.

King Eckbert, Queen Erin and Crown Prince Darius all die under very mysterious circumstances and one of their noblemen initiates devious plan. His intention is to substitute an orphan for the king’s long lost son and only remaining heir. Conner envisions the orphan will impersonate Prince Jaron, return “home” and ascend to the throne. Once installed, he imagines the orphan will have no choice but to do his bidding.

Conner scoops up four orphans from the streets and takes them to his vast residence. Once there, they share a room as they learn to sword fight and ride horses. The boys are schooled in King Eckbert’s family history and are taught to read. In short, Conner will not be satisfied until each of the boys learns to behave as a prince should.

Sage is the most outspoken and defiant of the orphans. He challenges and annoys Conner whilst outwitting the other potential impostors. Sage moves about secret passageways while his rivals are sleeping and he is punished repeatedly for his misdeeds.

Connor lifted my face and inspected it for cuts and bruises. “You’re none the worse after a stay in my dungeons. I hope the experience humbled you.”

He took the blank expression on my face as an answer and continued, “You’re a difficult young man, Sage, but I suspect that comes from your lack of discipline and supervision, which means I can train it out of you.”

Well suited to middle grade readers, including reluctant readers, The False Prince is an exciting, accessible fantasy/adventure that will have special appeal for boys. Highly recommended.

The False Prince is available in hardcover, paperback, audiobook and ebook formats.

The False Prince: Book 1 of the Ascendance Trilogy at Amazon.com

The False Prince: Book 1 of the Ascendance Trilogy: Book 1 of the Ascendance Trilogy at Amazon.ca

The False Prince won a 2012 Cybil Award in the Fantasy & Science Fiction Category


Bully by Patricia Polacco – A Terrific Anti Bullying Picture Book for Older Readers

Posted on August 2nd, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts recommends Bully by Patricia Polacco, a thoughtful examination of middle grade bullying and cyber bullying. Bully is an excellent anti bullying picture book for older readers and a valuable resource for middle grade classrooms.

image of Bully cover art an anti bullying picture book for older readersBully – written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco 
Anti bullying picture book for older readers published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons An Imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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 Lyla’s family moves house, she and her brother each switch to new schools. Lyla feels anxious about the transition but soon meets a new friend and is very happy to discover that he is in her homeroom class. Jamie and Lyla get along well so Lyla is not isolated but before long she discovers the many cliques at her new school: Geeks and Nerds, Toughs, Skateboarders, Athletes and the Celebrities.

As Lyla gains confidence at her new school, she starts to earn some very good grades and a spot on the cheerleading team. Jamie warns her, “That’s Gage, Maeve and Kenyon’s territory, Lyla. Be careful!”

Lyla settles in to her new class and appears content but she does notice that almost all of her classmates have cell phones. Jamie urges her to get a cell phone, a laptop and a Facebook account. Soon Lyla and her brother are trying to convince their parents to allow them to have phones. Their parents agree but warn that, if not used properly, the online privileges will be lost.image of Bully spread an anti bullying picture book for older readers

Jamie helps Lyla and her brother to set up their Facebook accounts and Lyla takes pride in their friendship and his position of trust at school.

Gage, Maeve and Kenyon were actually starting to be nice to me. I wasn’t good enough to sit at the celebrity table, though, until the Mid-Year Awards Assembly…Gage usually got this award, but she seemed really happy that I got it. That’s when she invited me to sit with them at the celebrity table at lunch..

Initially, Lyla finds the attention from the coolest girls exciting – she so wants to enjoy their popularity. The friendship sours, however, when the girls spend time surfing Facebook and commenting on classmates’ pages. They call this “scum dumping.” Lyla knows the bullying behavior is wrong and is especially upset when horrible comments are made on Jamie’s Facebook page. Lyla’s friendship with the Celebrities ends when she stands up for Jamie but the girls warn her, “No one dumps us, Lyla. We do the dumping.”

Sadly for Lyla the bullying does not end there. When an important test is compromised at school, Lyla is wrongly accused of stealing it and she becomes a victim of cyberbullying.

Bully is an excellent anti bullying picture book for older readers and a valuable resource for middle grade classrooms. Ms. Polacco’s depicts a racially diverse student population. As well, she presents a realistic and complex social situation without lecturing. She invites her readers to consider the question, “What would you do?”

Bully at Amazon.com

Bully at Amazon.ca

PDF Curriculum Guide to Ms. Polacco’s books (does not include Bully)


Good Little Wolf will charm

Posted on April 6th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Good Little Wolf by Nadia ShireenGood Little Wolf written and illustrated by Nadia Shireen
Picture book published by Alfred A. Knopf, and imprint of Random House


“It is madness for a sheep to talk of peace with a wolf” ~ French Proverb

Rolf is happy to be a good little wolf. He’s helpful, he’s a vegetarian, he likes to bake and he’s a good friend to pigs and Mrs. Boggins.

Rolf hopes he won’t ever encounter a bad wolf but, one day, when he is out walking in the woods, he meets the renowned Big, Bad Wolf. Big, Bad Wolf is quite dismayed at Rolf and his good behavior. Big, Bad Wolf expects wolves to howl and destroy houses and eat people.spread from Good Little Wolf

Big Bad Wolf challenges Rolf to be a “Real Wolf” and the good little wolf decides to give it a try. After a couple of disasterous attempts, Rolf discovers his inner ‘badness’ and proudly demonstrates his newfound abilities to Big, Bad Wolf.

Success demands a celebration and before long Rolf, Mrs. Boggins and Big, Bad Wolf are enjoying a delicious meal together.

Alas, author/illustrator Nadia Shireen is not content with happy endings. Big, Bad Wolf has one last wicked trick to play…

Fans of I Want My Hat Back will delight in Good Little Wolf as will those who have enjoyed Mind Your Manners, B.B. Wolf and Tell the Truth, B.B. Wolf.

Good Little Wolf will be enjoyed most by children who know the story of Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs. It most certainly will prompt discussions about “good” versus “evil” and whether a leopard (or wolf) can change its spots.

Simple, charming illustrations are a perfect match for both Rolf’s loveable personality and Big Bad Wolf’s nastiness.

Good Little Wolf at Amazon.com

Good Little Wolf at Amazon.ca




Anti bullying; different approaches for different ages

Posted on February 25th, 2013 by Jody

image of album cover for Mean by Taylor SwiftAs an avid lover of picture books, and a writer of them as well, I have to remind myself that this isn’t the only way to connect with kids, especially as they approach that pre-teen stage. I tend to lean toward using picture books as a way to teach reading skills, such as inferring, predicting, connecting, and visualizing because I find them very powerful. Also, when you pull out picture books in grade five, the students think the lesson isn’t going to be as difficult. They love listening to stories and books that they would no longer pick out on their own in the library.

So while it may be a go-to strategy for me, I know that I have to reach out in other ways too. Especially when the message we need to convey becomes more and more important with every day. We talk about bullying frequently in the classroom because it’s an always present subject. The discussions take many forms: ignoring, taunting, teasing, standing up, bystanding, taking action, cyber bullying, verbal vs physical, and how to deal with the different types.

This week, we made a group poster that we hoped would appeal to the victims of bullying. All of the slogans and catch phrases offered encouragement and support: “stand up”, “believe”, “brave”, “don’t give up”, “strong”, and many more. The kids did a great job coming up with things they could say to other students that would help them feel better about themselves and the situation they might find themselves in. Sadly, many of them have likely been in that situation and they need to know that how they feel is important.

Another very powerful resource that we don’t turn to as often, is music. Lyrics are an incredibly powerful way to connect with students and help them explore issues that are current and real. Just like they enjoyed the nursery rhymes and songs when they were little, contemporary music can also leave a lasting impression. There are a wide range of artists that deal with issues like isolation, being different, standing up for yourself, not being alone, and believing in yourself. Of course, there are many with inappropriate lyrics that can’t be shared at school, but there are also others that can help you connect your students to the issues at hand. Think: Mean by Taylor Swift, Firework by Katy Perry, Who Says by Saleena Gomez, and even Loser Like Me by the Glee Cast. It is yet another avenue to explore that offers us the opportunity to connect with kids at their level, with something they already feel strongly about; music. In addition to the lyrics, the students appreciate the artists that sing them. These artists write about being different and unaccepted, making the kids realize that even people they admire may have felt this way too.

The truth is, bullying happens in every walk of life, at every age. Teaching compassion, acceptance, empathy, and understanding at every age is essential. It needs to be something that continues to be emphasized throughout all stages, both at home and at school. Kids, and many adults, need to know that the choices they make, whether in words or actions, affect the people around them. This never stops being true. Sometimes I worry that we get lost in all of the details without remembering what’s most important: people. We are teaching more than Math or Language Arts. We are teaching students how to engage and intereact and resolve conflict, how to accept differences and celebrate being unique.

The connection between home and school is an important one because these types of things cannot be taught in a 45 minute Personal Planning lesson. It has to be part of us so we can encourage it to be part of them. So next time you are listening to your favourite artist, think about the message that they’re sending. Better yet, put on Taylor Swift and sing along with them; ask your kids why they think she would write a song like Mean. Ask them what they think it means, do they see bullying at school, how do they deal with it? We need to talk to our kids and communicate with them. We use resources like books and lyrics, but in the end, it is us sending them the message of what is important by what we choose to share with them, by how we act and interact.

Wear pink on Wednesday, read some of the great books out there on bullying (Enemy Pie, Juice Box Bully, Eight Keys, Slob, The Recess Queen– I could go on and on), or listen to music that empowers your kids to find their voice. Talk to your kids about why you’re doing it and what it all means. Even if they know the reason behind why we wear pink on February 27th, talk to them, read with them, sing with them. Just find a way to let them know that we are all in this together.

Mean at Amazon.com

Mean at Amazon.ca

Out of my Mind – Sharon Draper’ Compelling Young Adult Fiction

Posted on February 3rd, 2013 by Jody

Storytime Standouts' Guest Contributor Writes About Out of My Mind by Sharon M. DraperOut of my Mind written by Sharon M. Draper
Young Adult Fiction published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Sharon Draper’s Out of my Mind is one of the best young adult fiction books I have read. For weeks, I have been reading blogs, websites, and articles about young adult fiction. The key words that keep popping up are ‘high stakes.’ In today’s fast-paced, socia media driven society, it is hard to capture attention. Your book has to be different; it has to stand out, or reach out and grab you. I thought I understood what was meant by the term ‘high stakes’ because I’ve read many YA novels and countless adult novels. It means you care about what happens next and you are connected to the characters.

When I got to the third to last chapter of this novel, that my class and I were already hooked on, I truly understood what high stakes means. It meant that, even though the bell had rang, even though they wanted lunch and so did I, even though everyone looks forward to the break in the school day, not one of us wanted to stop. We were frozen by the words on the page; we were so actively involved that no one wanted to move. But we had to. Kids had committments to help in classes, I had a meeting, and other kids were helping in the library. High stakes means that I was late for my meeting, because even though I couldn’t keep reading to them, neither could I walk away. I had to finish it. So I did.

This book already had the readers’ attention at page one. A young girl, Melody, talks about how she’s got all these words floating in her head and they’re this beautiful, abstract thing, that anchor her. She describes them as snowflakes, each one different and delicate. What a beautiful description. But the kicker, is when she says that, at 11 years old, she’s never said even one of those words. Melody has cerebral palsy. She cannot talk, walk, feed herself, or take herself to the bathroom. Sharon truly gets inside, not only the mind of this extremely, physically challenged girl, but the average grade five mind as well. Melody has all of the same challenges that regular grade fives have; what to wear, do I have friends? did I get the answer right? why don’t my parents understand? my little sister bugs me. What we see, in Out of my Mind, is how she connects with that world with extreme limitations. Her ability to do this connects us to her, it invests us in the story, and it makes us part of Melody’s world.

We spend a lot of time discussing bullying and how to treat others in elementary school. More and more, it has become a focus. We try to teach kids the different types of bullying, how to stop it, and how to recognize it. We try to make them empathetic by imagining how the victim feels, how the bystander feels, and even what the bully feels. This book gives us such a unique view of bullying. What if you could never respond to the bully? Never stand up for yourself? Never defend your friends? What if you were bullied and people didn’t even realize that you fully understood their cruelty? It’s one thing for a child to ‘not be seen’ but Melody’s circumstances take this to an entirely different level. It made my students more aware of the fact that how a person looks does not define who they are inside. The book stopped being about a girl in the same grade as they are with physical challenges; it became about Melody, this kid like them who was fighting not to get left out and fighting to be heard. She just had to fight harder than any of them have ever had to.

For me, it showed me what high stakes really mean. It means when you’re so invested in the character that you forget they’re not real. You see those characters in the people around you and the lessons you learn from them make you better. My students loved this book. I loved this book. What amazed me most was how, I started reading it to them, thinking it would never be okay for Melody because she was so physically and verbally limited. But in the end, that was not what mattered at all. I stopped seeing her limitations and was amazed by the strenth and courage and sense of character that she possessed. Sharon Draper was able to do all the things an author should do: she drew me in, she made me feel both Melody’s triumphs and heartaches. She made me part of Melody’s world and in turn, that beautiful strength of character, will hopefully, be part of my world and my students the next time any of us begin to judge a book by its cover.

Out of my Mind at Amazon.com

Out of my Mind at Amazon.ca

Sharon M. Draper’s website answers thirteen questions about Out of my Mind.

Out of my Mind was awared the Josette Frank Award by the Children’s Book Committee of the Bank Street College of Education and was chosen as a 2011 IRA Teachers’ Choice Book and a 2011 IRA Young Adult’s Choice. It was the Best Book of the Year from KIRKUS and an Outstanding Children’s book of 2011 by Bank Street College. It won the Buckeye Children’s Book Award from Ohio, the Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award in both the middle school and elementary categories, the Black-Eyed Susan Book Award from Maryland, the Beehive Book Award from Utah, and the Virginia Reader’s Choice Award. It received the SAKURA Medal – English Chapter Book category .


Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes

Posted on January 21st, 2013 by Jody

cover image of Pete the Cat I Love My White ShoesPete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes written by Eric Litwin and illustrated by James Dean
Picture book about resilience and optimism (self published and subsequently) republished by Harper Collins Children’s Books

Over the weekend, I read a completely charming and adorable picture book called Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes. I had never heard of it, so when my daughter asked to read it to me, and my friend said it was great, I sat back and listened. Its language is simple, perfect for early readers and the message is strong, perfect for kids of all ages. Pete is a cat who likes his shoes, which start out white. As the book progresses and Pete steps into some different things, such as strawberries, blueberries, and mud, his shoes change colors. Though the message is clear throughtout, I love that the story ends by telling the moral of Pete’s story. No matter what color your shoes or what happens, go with it; carry on and be okay. The multicolored shoes, of course, can be substituted for a wide multitude of things. image of spread from Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes

People often see picture books as a way to engage young children, but their message can be very important to older children as well. In fact, sometimes, the simple but powerful messages in a picture book can be more meaningful than a long novel, particularly for struggling readers. Even for strong readers; who are used to making sense of text, finding connections, predicting, and summarizing. Ask them to give you the moral and key points of a picture book and they often get stumped. They stopped reading such books when they were around eight or nine so now, to them, those books are for little kids learning to read. They forgot, or don’t see, the message that is embedded in most pictures books and young children’s tales. Taking them back to those stories and seeing what they pull from it, is a true delight. Every kid loves to be read to.

My grade five class, whom I read to almost every day, was asked by our librarian if they wanted to hear a story. There was a resounding yes. They all sat on the carpet in front of her rocking chair, listening to her animated voices. They did exactly what we want kids to do; they fell into the story. They engaged and enjoyed. They saw the moral and the next day, when they did their writing, the book was mentioned more than once. Picture books are powerful tools, regardless of a person’s age. This is why, at the workshops I attend, there are frequently picture books used to share and show strategies and ways to improve reading levels. Picture books connect; they draw you in and charm you in a short amount of time. You can never be too old for that.

Pete the Cat’s website

Pete the Cat learning activities and downloads, including a free MP3 download of Pete’s song, from Harper Collins Children’s Books

Kim Scott’s Pete the Cat Pinterest board

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes at Amazon.com

Pete The Cat: I Love My White Shoes at Amazon.ca

Teen fiction excellence: Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Posted on January 6th, 2013 by Teen contributor

Teen fiction excellence:  Where Things Come Back by John Corey WhaleyWhere Things Come Back written by John Corey Whalley
Young Adult Fiction published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, a division of Simon and Schuster

Before Cullen Witter’s final year of high school, everything he thinks and understands about his small and painfully dull hometown of Lilly Arkansas vanishes. His cousin overdoses, his town becomes obsessed with the reappearance of an extinct woodpecker, and, most disturbingly of all, his gifted younger brother disappears, leaving Cullen to hold his family together as he muddles his way into adulthood. On the other side of the world, a young missionary in Africa searches for meaning wherever he can find it. When their two stories collide, they, and the people whose lives they’ve touched, will be changed forever.

There are a lot of coming of age stories out there. This is probably why I don’t read them that often. After reading the backs of a bunch of them at the library or book store, they all start to blur together, and it is hard for one to stand out. Where Things Come Back does stand out, becoming one of the best books I’ve read this Winter Break.

For me, my favorite thing about this book was its characters. The characters were interesting, understandable, and relatable. I could feel their emotions clearly throughout the book, as they searched and lost and found. Almost every character had some sort of back story or development and they were the driving force behind the plot, their stories weaving together and connecting in ways I never saw coming. As the author gradually brought all their stories together, he creates a well constructed and creative narritive, leading up to a unexpected, heartbreaking, yet hopeful finale. The last few chapters were my favorite part of the story, as I got to watch all the threads of this story finally come together as one.

Where Things Come Back is my first read of 2013, and it has set the bar very high for the rest of the books I read this year. Thought-provoking and original  this book has become one of my favorites, and I would recommend it to anyone, no matter what they prefer to read.

Where Things Come Back at Amazon.com

Where Things Come Back at Amazon.ca

Where Things Come Back won the William C. Morris YA Debut Award and the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. As well, it was named an Indigo Books and Music Best Teen Books of 2011 Pick, a New Voices for Teens Selection -ABC Children’s Group at ABA and Best Fiction for Young Adults 2012 Nominee -American Library Association.

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

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

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


The Nature Of Monsters – Clare Clark

Posted on August 1st, 2012 by Teen contributor

Storytime Standouts’ teen contributor writes about young adult fiction title, The Nature of Monsters

Storytime Standouts' teen contributor writes about young adult fiction title, The Nature of MonstersThe Nature of Monsters – written by Clare Clark
Young Adult Fiction published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt




In 1718 Eliza Tally arrives in London to work as a maid for an apothecary, a position arranged to protect the father of her unborn child from scandal. But why does her master want another maid when he already has one, a half-wit named Mary? And why is she never allowed to look her master in the face, or enter his study where he pursues his experiments? Soon Eliza realizes the nature of his obsession and must act to save the child, Mary, and herself.

Though not the most light and happy way to start off my summer reading, I really enjoyed this book. I loved the imagery in this book. It made me really feel that I was in that world. The whole novel is very descriptive, creating a dark and claustrophobic atmosphere. The story its self is haunting and scary, the author paints a very real picture of what London must have been like for the common people in the eighteenth century. Overall I really enjoyed this book. It has a different, mysterious plot line that would be enjoyed by fans of both the gothic and historical genres.

The Nature of Monsters at Amazon.com

The Nature of Monsters at Amazon.ca

Clare Clark @ 5×15 from 5×15 on Vimeo.


Good Dog, Carl – Checking Out a Classic Wordless Picture Book

Posted on June 18th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at wordless picture book Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day

Storytime Standouts looks at Alexandra Day's first wordless picture book about Carl:  Good Dog, CarlGood Dog, Carl created by Alexandra Day
Almost wordless picture book published by Simon and Schuster



This immensely popular almost wordless picture book will be thoroughly enjoyed by dog lovers and young mischief makers. When mother goes out for awhile, she asks her pet rottweiler, named Carl, to look after the sleeping baby.

Carl watches at the window as Mother leaves and then lowers the crib rail and waits patiently while Baby Madeline climbs onto his back. Carl provides loving care for the infant, bouncing her on Mother’s bed, playing dress up and meeting her at the bottom of the laundy shute. When the baby goes for a dip in the family fish tank, Carl is nearby, ensuring that she is swimming safely. Eventually Carl makes lunch for Madeline, returns her to her crib and tidies the house thoroughly before her unsuspecting mother returns home.

Once readers get over their shock at the idea of leaving an infant at home alone with a dog, they will enjoy the silliness alongside Carl’s gentle and devoted caregiving. Carl is utterly loveable and Baby Madeline is clearly having a grand time.

Good Dog, Carl is the first of seventeen wordless picture books about Carl and Madeline. Available in a variety of formats including board book and paperback, the hardcover measures 7.6 x 8.5 inches and is designed appropriately for small hands to grasp. Suitable for toddlers and preschool-age children.

Good Dog, Carl at Amazon.com

Good Dog, Carl at Amazon.ca

Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books

Other Wordless Picture Books About Carl at Amazon.com

Other Wordless Picture Books About Carl at Amazon.ca



Wave – Wordless Picture Book

Posted on June 2nd, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at a wordless picture book by Suzy Lee: Wave

Storytime Standouts looks at Wave, a wordless picture book by Suzy LeeWave – created by Suzy Lee
Wordless picture book published by Chronicle Books



It hardly seems right to attempt to capture the infectious spirit and joy of Suzy Lee’s Wave with mere words but I shall try.

When a young girl arrives at a beach, she is filled with enthusiasm and dashes forward, stopping just short of the beautiful, frothy blue water. She hesitates on the sand, pausing, leaning as she is drawn toward the ocean. Suddenly, the character of the water changes. Worried, she tentatively shifts backward, her steps mirrored by a group of friendly gulls. As the waves reverse and retreat, our young heroine stands on her tip toes and challenges the salty water. Before long, she leaps into the dancing waves, joyfully kicking and splashing until an enormous wave erupts. The powerful crest leaves her sodden but excited when it deposits a bounty of shells on the sandy beach.

Children and adults will revel in this playful, wordless celebration of a day at the beach.

Gorgeous illustrations were created with charcoal and watercolours. Suitable for all ages.

Wave was selected New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book 2008

Wave at Amazon.com

Wave at Amazon.ca

Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books



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

Christmas Picture Books – Carolyn’s List of Favourites

Posted on December 23rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

I can’t imagine the Christmas holidays without our special collection of Christmas picture books. Earlier this month, Jody shared her favourites. I have finally put together my own post. Jody and I both love The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore, illustrated by Christian Birmingham and read it on Christmas Eve. I decided to write about a different version of the poem and mention that reading the same text with different illustrations is great for youngsters. It encourages taking a thoughtful look at the illustrations and making comparisons.

Storytime Standouts has many free Christmas early learning printables – You will find all of our Christmas and Winter-themed printables grouped together here. You will find more posts about Christmas picture books here.

cover art for Jan Brett's The Night Before ChristmasThe Night Before Christmas illustrated by Jan Brett
Christmas picture book published by Putnam Juvenile

This version of the classic Christmas poem is filled to the brim with wonderful extras. Each beautiful two-page spread is framed with details that might otherwise never be seen. As reindeer are prancing and pawing on the roof, we get a glimpse of some special tree ornaments, Santa Claus appears in the fireplace and anxious Pa quickly descends the stairs.

Fans of Jan Brett’s work will want to visit her website and discover an abundance of printables including coloring sheets and cards.

The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Jan Brett at Amazon.com

The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Jan Brett at Amazon.ca


cover art for The Polar ExpressThe Polar Express written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg
Christmas picture book published by Houghton Mifflin

Long before The Polar Express was made into a movie, it was a Caldecott Award winning Christmas picture book. When a friend says, “There is no Santa,” a young boy hopes desperately that his friend is incorrect. On Christmas Eve, he goes to bed and listens intently for the sound of sleigh bells. He does not hear sleigh bells but rather hissing and clanging. He looks out his bedroom window and is amazed to see an enormous train, waiting outside his house.

A magical story, The Polar Express will encourage children and adults to believe in the magic of Christmas.

The Polar Express at Amazon.com

The Polar Express at Amazon.ca

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