Posts Tagged ‘video clip’

Christmas Picture Books – Jody’s List of Holiday Favourites

Posted on December 8th, 2011 by Jody

Christmas Picture Books - Jody's List of Holiday Favourites Check Them Out!

Christmas picture books are in a class of their own.
At home, we always keep our Christmas picture books separate from the rest of the piles. We pull them out in late November and tuck them away at the end of the season with all of the other decorations. Just like when we unwrap each ornament that has been packed away for a year, pulling out each story is equally exciting. We forget which ones we have over the year or which new ones we may have purchased at the end of the season and stored away. Over the years, we’ve read many different Christmas tales, but some stay with you throughout the season and beyond.

The Night Before Christmas illustration by Christian Birmingham

Storytime Standouts has many free Christmas printables – You will find all of our Christmas and Winter-themed printables grouped together here .

Here are some of my favourite Christmas picture books…

image of cover art for The Night Before Christmas The Night Before Christmas written by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Christian Birmingham
Christmas picture book published by Running Press Kids

The classic tale that we all know; I love reading this every Christmas Eve. It makes me think of my mom, who recites the words along with me as I read because she knows it by heart. I love that the wonderment of Christmas is displayed through an adult’s eyes.

The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Christian Birmingham at

The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Christian Birmingham at

image of cover art for Are You Grumpy Santa!Are you Grumpy Santa? by Gregg & Evan Spiridellis
Christmas Picture Book published by Disney-Hyperion

This is, hands down, one of the cutest Christmas books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Just like anyone else, Santa can only take so much and finally becomes grumpy when nothing goes his way. The rhyme and the pictures are great. It never fails to amuse me, regardless of how many times I read it.

Are You Grumpy Santa? at

Are Your Grumpy Santa? At

image of cover art for Queen of ChristmasQueen of Christmas by Mary Engelbreit
Christmas picture book published by HarperCollins

I have always enjoyed Mary Engelbreit’s illustrations. I often buy calendars with her pictures because they are sweet and have nice phrases on them. I purchased this book a few years ago and the illustrations are beautiful. It’s the story of a young girl who is working hard to finish her incredibly long Christmas list before Christmas Eve. Of course, in the end, she learns it’s not what’s on the list that counts. When I purchased this book, it came with a paper doll and clothes, which my children love as much as the book.

Queen of Christmas at

Queen of Christmas at

image of cover art for Christmas Around the WorldChristmas Around the World by Chuck Fischer
Christmas Pop Up Book published by Little, Brown and Company

My mom gave me this book a couple years ago. You are never too old for a good pop up book. Just this morning, my youngest opened one of the pages and said, “Wow! Mommy, look at this Christmassy page!” Featuring a number of different countries, it includes pull outs, interesting facts, and beautiful images.

Christmas Around the World: A Pop Up Book at

Christmas Around the World: A Pop Up Book at

image of cover art for Snowmen at NightSnowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner
Snowman Picture Book published by Harcourt

The illustrations in this story are very fun. It’s a favourite with my classroom kids, who like to imagine what a snowman could possibly do when no one is looking!

Snowmen at Night at

Snowmen at Night at

image of cover art for Olivia Helps with ChristmasOlivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer
Christmas Picture Book published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

I can’t help but love every Olivia book and pairing her with my favourite holiday is just a bonus. As they wait for Santa to finally arrive, Olivia finds many ways to help her mom. My favourite part is when she makes a special mini Christmas tree “centre piece”.

Olivia Helps with Christmas at

Olivia Helps with Christmas at

image of cover art for How the Grinch Stole ChristmasHow the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
Christmas Picture Book published by Random House Books for Young Readers

I love the rhyme, the characters, and I absolutely love when the Grinch’s heart grows! It’s such a cute and fun story. I’m very glad that my kids are no longer scared of it!

Grinch Printables from

How the Grinch Stole Christmas at

How the Grinch Stole Christmas at

Aside from reading to my own children, I love the joy my students get from these picture books. Though we teach differently in the intermediate grades, there is no age, or grade, limit for enjoying these stories.

The Butterfly Circus – view it and rethink disability and stereotypes

Posted on December 5th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Set during the Great Depression, The Butterfly Circus encourages viewers to rethink disability, stereotypes and assumptions.

The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph

When Mendez, a showman from the renowned Butterfly Circus discovers a limbless man being exploited at a carnival sideshow, the showman sees ability and courage rather than disability. He sees a magnificant man.

A multi award-winning short film, The Butterfly Circus will soon be made into a full-length, feature film.

The Butterfly Circus – HD from The Butterfly Circus on Vimeo.

The Butterfly Circus
Directed by: Joshua Weigel
Written by: Joshua Weigel & Rebekah Weigel
Produced by: Joshua Weigel, Rebekah Weigel & Angie Alvarez
Starring: Eduardo Verastegui (Bella, Chasing Papi), Nick Vujicic (Life Without Limbs) & Doug Jones (Pan’s Labyrinth, Fantastic Four – Rise of the Silver Surfer, Hellboy)

Secret World of Og

Posted on November 24th, 2011 by Jody

Storytime Standouts' guest contributor recommends middle grade fiction,  The Secret World of Og by Pierre BertonThe Secret World of Og written by Pierre Berton
Middle grade fiction published by McClelland & Stewart

Many of you might remember this tale as one of your own childhood favorites; I do. It’s been delightful to learn that this fun adventure story continues to entertain and engage audiences.

It’s the tale of four children, Penny, Pamela, Peter, and Paul who they affectionately call Pollywog. They love to make believe and a trip through the floor of their playhouse leads them on an amazing journey to a place called Og.

Between the adorable humor and the endearing characters, the tale stays with you. When I read it to my daughter this summer, I had fond memories of reading it when I was only a bit older than her. My student teacher asked if she could read it aloud to our class because it had been a favourite of hers. The students are loving it and creating vivid comic strips that highlight the best parts of the book. We decided to do a bulletin board to display the comics and many of the adults at our school commented on how much they loved the book when they were little. It is simply one of those classics that any generation can relate to and enjoy.

The four children, each with their own unique personality traits, discover a hidden world under their playhouse, filled with all of the toys, clothes, and random items they thought they had lost over the years. They find themselves surrounded by small green people who only speak one word: “Og”.

The children soon find out that the people of Og can use real words, but their style of speech resembles the comic books that the kids love. Somewhere along the way, the kids have left books out in the yard that have made their way down to Og. The result is a bunch of Og people living a parallel life to the four children. They all enjoy comics, make believe, and dressing up.

Some of my favourite parts of the book include the Pollywog’s continuous jailbreaks, Earless Osdick (the cat that thinks it’s a dog) being mistaken at the Og market as a rabbit, and Peter disguising himself as a little green man.

Published in 1961, it represents the meaning of “timeless tale”. If you haven’t read it before, or even if you have, it is worth the read.

The Secret World of Og at

The Secret World of Og at

Check out this 1991 Front Page Challenge episode with Pierre Berton and his daughter, Patsy talking about the 30th anniversary of the book. Patsy illustrated the original version of The Secret World of Og.

Spectacular Christmas Pop-Up Book: 12 Days of Christmas

Posted on November 20th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

image of Christmas pop-up book The 12 Days of ChristmasLast evening my nine year old son and I snuggled up and shared an incredible Christmas pop-up book, The 12 Days of Christmas Anniversary Edition by Robert Sabuda. I was somewhat familiar with Mr. Sabuda’s artistry but this book is truly extraordinary. My son was enthralled and first called, “Daddy, Daddy, You’ve got to see this!” and then, “I have to take this to ‘share’ at school!”

The 12 Days of Christmas Anniversary Edition created by Robert Sabuda
Christmas pop-up book published by Little Simon

Truly a spectactular pop up book, The 12 Days of Christmas is a visual delight from beginning to end. Gorgeous, mainly white, paper cut outs of a partridge, turtle doves, french hens, include a music box, scissors and a snow globe. The final spread, which includes a lit Christmas tree, is fabulous.

Mr. Sabuda’s website is well worth a visit as he provides detailed instructions for ‘simple’ pops ups you can make.

The 12 Days of Christmas Anniversary Edition: A Pop-up Celebration at

The 12 Days of Christmas Anniversary Edition: A Pop-up Celebration at

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.

A Fresh Look at a Frog Prince – Kiss Me! (I’m a Prince)

Posted on November 13th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Kiss Me I'm a Prince written by Heather McLeod and illustrated by Brooke KerriganKiss Me! (I’m and Prince!) written by Heather McLeod and illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan
Picture book published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside

When young Ella chances upon a talking frog, she is not altogether sure that kissing his puckered froggy lips is a good idea. For Ella, the idea of a talking frog is much more appealing than the prospect of kissing him and turning him into a boring frog prince. Ella is a fan of play – she likes basketball, swimming and Simon Says. Ella’s reluctance to kiss her new froggy friend means that he has a chance to enjoy traditional childhood games and to behave in some ways that are not at all royal. Eventually, representatives of the palace arrive. The royal frog is returned to a life of fencing and studying but not before Ella’s ideas have made a lasting impression. The frog negotiates with his parents for more playtime before returning to ask Ella for a magical kiss so he can join the neighbourhood baseball team.

An enjoyable read aloud for children aged four and up, Kiss Me! (I’m and Prince!) provides many opportunities for children to make predictions and also invites comparisons with other versions of The Frog Prince.

Kiss Me! (I’m a Prince) at

Kiss Me! (I’m a Prince!) at

Christmas Baking with Kids – Remember to Add a Pinch of “Love”

Posted on November 6th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Cooking and baking with kids is worth the mess

Kids in the Holiday Kitchen will inspire you to spend time baking with children over the holidaysKids in the Holiday Kitchen written by Jessica Strand and Tammy Massman-Johnson with photographs by James Baigrie
Cookbook highlighting Baking with Kids published by Chronicle Books

This is a wonderful time of year to engage young children in baking and cooking. Although messy at times, baking with kids and preparing yummy treats to share with others will create memories to last a lifetime – for you and your children. I remember creating sticky and lopsided gingerbread houses with my young boys. I think they ate more of the “decorations” than they actually managed to attach to the houses! Another year, we helped Grandma bake cookies because she was recovering from a stroke and couldn’t manage by herself. The kitchen was a disaster afterwards but the laughter, memories and delicious goodies more than compensated.

Kids in the Holiday Kitchen is a fun holiday book that is sure to inspire you and your children. Offering recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts as well as craft ideas, the photographs will have you reaching for cookie cutters, rolling pins and icing sugar.

Meet the authors and hear about the book on YouTube

Kids in the Holiday Kitchen: Making, Baking, Giving at

Kids in the Holiday Kitchen: Making, Baking, Giving at

Storytime Standouts has many free Christmas printables – You will find our Christmas songs, rhymes and fingerplays here, Christmas interlined paper here and Christmas words with pictures here.

Canada’s Highway of Heroes – a picture book tribute by Kathy Stinson

Posted on November 4th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Kathy Stinson's Highway of Heroes picture book.Highway of Heroes by Kathy Stinson
Picture book published by Fitzhenry and Whiteside

A solemn forward by the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Walter Natynczyk affirms that Kathy Stinson’s Highway of Heroes is a fitting tribute to Canada’s fallen heroes and the route they travel from Canadian Forces Base Trenton to Toronto, Ontario.

Highway of Heroes is a fictional account of one young boy’s trip as he and his mom accompany his father’s remains from the CFB Trenton tarmac to the coroner’s office in Toronto. The boy is surprised to discover, All the people – on all the bridges – are there because of his dad. A hero.

Dramatic photos depict the journey of the convoy and the crowds standing and waiting to honour a fallen soldier.

While dealing with a solemn topic, the text encourages young readers to appreciate and echo the respect shown by Canadians who choose to go to the Highway of Heroes and and honour those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

32 pages, suitable for children aged five and up

Endnotes include The Story of the Highway, Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan, Ways to Honour Those Who Are Killed or Wounded In Service to Their Country.

Highway of Heroes Teachers’ Guide in PDF form

Highway of Heroes at

Highway of Heroes at

Ruby’s Wish is a Gem With an Important Message for Girls

Posted on November 3rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Ruby's Wish is a Gem With an Important Message for GirlsRuby’s Wish written by Shirin Yim Bridges and illustrated by Sockie Blackall
Picture book published by Chronicle Books

Many years ago, Ruby lived with her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in a huge house in a city in China. At that time, girls did not typically have a chance to go to school but Ruby was fortunate. In her household, because there were many children, a teacher came and taught all the boys. Unlike her girl cousins, Ruby did not want to be married; she wanted to go to university. Each day, Ruby worked hard to study with the boys in addition to learning all of the household skills expected of girls.

Ruby’s Wish is beautifully illustrated and lovingly told. Based on a true story, Ruby’s Wish will be enjoyed by children five years and up.

Ruby’s Wish at

Ruby’s Wish at

You may also be interested in our page titled “Diversity.” We highlight picture books and chapter books that celebrate and inform us about human diversity including learning disabilities, physical disabilities, allergies, single parent families, interracial families, same sex parents, aging, death and more.

Don’t miss our page of quotes about diversity.

Picture Books to Help Children Deal with Challenges –

Posted on October 29th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

You may also be interested in our page titled “Diversity.” We highlight picture books and chapter books that celebrate and inform us about human diversity including learning disabilities, physical disabilities, allergies, single parent families, interracial families, same sex parents, aging, death and more.

Don’t miss our page of quotes about diversity.

As parents and teachers, there are many moments when we must help our children to deal with challenges. These books deal with important information and themes. A well written book can often be enormously helpful. Today, I would like to introduce you to a number of picture books that may assist you to guide your children.

Picture Books to Help Children Deal with Challenges Including AutismThe Friendship Puzzle: Helping Kids Learn About Accepting and Including Kids With Autism Written by Julie L. Coe, inspired by Jennifer Maloni, and illustrated by Sondra L. Brassel
Published by Larsian Publishing, Inc.

When Mackenzie meets a new boy in her class, she tries to be his friend but he seems a little different. At recess, Dylan spends alot of time on the swings and, although he apparently wants to play soccer with his classmates, he does not seem to know how to join in and play.

Dylan is bothered by the noise in the cafeteria and he sometimes waves his hands and makes noises. Mackenzie decides to find out how to be Dylan’s friend. She learns that Dylan ‘doesn’t have a lot of words and that it is hard for him to tell people he wants to play or be friends.’

In addition to telling the story of Dylan and Mackenzie, The Friendship Puzzle includes discussion questions and suggested activities. The authors also remind readers that it is important to praise children who reach out to and are inclusive of others.

The Friendship Puzzle: Helping Kids Learn About Accepting and Including Kids with Autism at

The Friendship Puzzle: Helping Kids Learn About Accepting and Including Kids With Autism at

Picture Books to Help Children Deal with Challenges Including Difficulty ReadingMiss Little’s Gift (Douglas Wood and Jim Burke)– Douglas is in grade two and he doesn’t like to sit still. He interrupts his teacher; he has problems with reading and on the playground. He is very resistant to staying after school in order to get extra help but Miss Little is firm and determined. She finds a book to match his interests, she encourages him and she gives him just enough help. Miss Little’s Gift is a celebration of the difference a wonderful, caring teacher can make.

Miss Little’s Gift at

Miss Little’s Gift at

Picture Books to Help Children Deal with Challenges Including Mobility ProblemsAll Kinds of Friends, Even Green (Ellen B. Senisi)– Here we accompany Moses on a school day. When he is given an assignment to write about friends, he carefully considers all of his friends and all the fun things he does with them. Ultimately, he decides to write about an iguana named Zaki whose toes were poisoned by mites. Moses likes Zaki because ‘she figures out how to get where she wants to be in different ways.’ Moses understands that friends may be different on the outside but may be very much alike on the inside.

All Kinds of Friends, Even Green! at

All Kinds of Friends, Even Green! at

Twists in Measle and the Wrathmonk Will Engage Reluctant Readers

Posted on October 27th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Measle and the Wrathmonk will appeal to reluctant readersMeasle and the Wrathmonk written by Ian Ogilvy
Chapter book for middle grade and reluctant readers published by Oxford University Press

Measle and the Wrathmonk is one of my new favourite chapter book series for middle grade readers. Ten year old Measle lives a deplorable life. He is hungry most of the time, he is fifthy and lives in a wretched house with a menacing guardian. He has been told that his parents were killed by a snake but Measle is unconvinced and hopes he will be reunited one day.

Although the set up of Measle and the Wrathmonk seems all too familiar (orphaned child, deplorable conditions), Ogilvy creates unexpected and exciting twists and turns that are sure to engage young readers. Measle is a winner and well worth trying with reluctant readers. Additional books in the series include Measle and the Dragodon, Measle and the Mallockee.

Lexile Level – 900L

Measle and the Wrathmonk at

Measle and the Wrathmonk at

Visit our page about reluctant readers for more information.

Favourite Stories Transformed Into Terrific Picture Books

Posted on October 23rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Three familiar tales are given ingenious ‘make overs.’ Readers are sure to enjoy comparing these terrific picture books with the traditional stories that inspired them.

Favourite Stories Transformed Into Terrific Picture Books by Storytime Standouts includes Three Little Fish
The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark written by Ken Geist and illustrated by Julia Gorton
Picture book published by Cartwheel Books, an imprint of Scholastic

When Mama Fish sends Jim, Tim and Kim off to make their homes in the deep blue sea, a Big, Bad Shark is watching. It is not long before he knocks at a door and roars, “Little Fish, Little Fish, let me come in.” A really delightful addition to a picture book collection, youngsters will enjoy chiming in when the Little Fish replies, “Not by the skin of my finny, fin, fin!” Bold, bright illustrations complement this clever adaptation and ensure a very happy ending.

The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark at

The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark at

Favourite Stories Transformed Into Terrific Picture Books by Storytime Standouts includes Clancy with the Puck
Clancy With the Puck written and illustrated by Chris Mizzoni
Picture book published by Raincoast Books

Just as Casey could hit a baseball, Clancy is a star when it comes to hockey. When Clancy Cooke joins the Hogtown Maple Buds, hopes are raised for a Stanley Cup win. Alas, in the final moments of a playoff game, when Clancy takes a penalty shot, “The puck deflected off the post, like a comet to the sky. The Buds had lost the Stanley Cup – and the fans went home to cry.” A sure winner, especially for hockey fans and those familiar with the classic story of Casey at the Bat.

Clancy with the Puck at

Clancy with the Puck at

Favourite Stories Transformed Into Terrific Picture Books by Storytime Standouts includes The Three Snow Bears
The Three Snow Bears written and illustrated by Jan Brett
Picture book published by Putnam Juvenile, an imprint of Penguin Books

When Baby Bear’s soup is too hot and burns his mouth, he and his snow bear family leave their igloo and go for a stroll. Meanwhile, Aloo-ki is searching for her sled dogs. She happens upon the bear family’s igloo and is soon inside, tasting soup, trying on boots and sleeping in Baby Bear’s “just right” bed. Beautifully illustrated, this is a truly inspired adaption of Goldilocks’ story.

The Three Snow Bears at

The Three Snow Bears at

Getting Ready to Read and Beginning to Read, Week Two

Posted on September 30th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Week Two of Getting Ready to Read and Beginning to Read at Steveston Community Centre, Fall 2011

In Getting Ready to Read this week, we talked about letter “G”. As adults, we know that “G” can make two different sounds. The sound we hear in garden, gate, go, green, gloves, glue is referred to as the hard “G” sound. This is the “G” sound we talked about in class.

As the children move ahead with reading, they will learn that “G” also makes the sound we hear in gym, giraffe, gem, giant. This sound is referred to as the soft “G” sound. We are not going to confuse the children by introducing the soft “G” sound at this stage. When they are ready to learn about the soft “G” sound, you will want to know that “G” usually makes the hard sound when it is followed by “A” (gate), “O” (go), “U” (gum) or a consonant (great). It usually makes the soft “G” sound when followed by “E” (gem), “I” (giant) or “Y” (gym).

Our story this week was Honk! – The Story of a Prima Swanerina written by Pamela Duncan Edwards and illustrated by Henry Cole.

Honk!: The Story of a Prima Swanerina at

Honk!: The Story of a Prima Swanerina at

In Beginning to Read this week we talked about the “et” word family (bet, get, jet, let, met, net, pet, set, wet). Our tricky word was “quiet.”

Our theme was Bathtime and we played a fishing game – fishing for rubber ducks (each had one of our word family words on it). Our story was Once Upon a Bathtime by Vi Hughes and illustrated by Sima Elizabeth Shefrin.

For more bathtime fun, check out our free downloads

image of PDF icon  Bathtime Chants

Add actions to these fun chants for bathtime

I love using word families with beginning readers. If you wish, you can download and print off more word family materials for your child here.

Once Upon A Bathtime at

Once Upon a Bathtime at

The Reading Zone by Nancie Atwell – Discover Ways to Help Teen Readers

Posted on September 13th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Do you share my concerns about inspiring preteen and teen readers?

Storytime Standouts looks at suggestions for inspiring preteen and teen readers from The Reading Zone by Nancie Atwell The Reading Zone written by Nancie Atwell
Professional teaching/parenting resource about teen readers published by Scholastic

Over the weekend, I had an opportunity to enjoy reading Nancie Atwell’s The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers.

I am always interested to read and hear leading educators suggest ways to ensure that children, preteens and teens become “Skilled, passionate, habitual, critical readers” because for so many teen readers this does not happen. Ms. Atwell’s approach to reading reading is practical and passionate. She reminds all parents of teens that everyone has reading homework and there is no more important homework than reading.

She identifies the key ways a teen reading ‘class’ can be transformed into a teen reading ‘zone.’ She also discusses the three categories of book difficulty: Holidays, Challenges and Just Rights. Her chapters on teen reading include Choice, Ease, Comprehension, Booktalking, Boys, Commmunicating with Parents and High School. The book’s appendix lists How to Create a National Reading Zone.

This is a book that every parent of a preteen or teen reader and most teachers should read. It is both informative and inspiring.

The Reading Zone blog

The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers at

The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers at

Meet Nancie Atwell in The Reading Zone

Middle Grade Readers Travel Through Time to the London Blitz

Posted on September 10th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve put aside the picture books and early chapter books and read two interesting books for middle grade readers that feature time travel. Suggested for children in grades six through nine, also referred to as middle grade readers, I have some reservations about the age range but enjoyed each of the books thoroughly.

Storytime Standouts looks at London Calling by Edward BloorLondon Calling written by Edward Bloor
Middle Grade Fiction published by Alfred A. Knopf

In London Calling by Edward Bloor, the central character is a seventh grade student at a private school in New Jersey. Hating school and disconnected from his family, Martin is sleeping his life away. When his grandmother dies, he is bequeathed a beautiful Philco Deluxe Art Deco radio. After he “started sleeping with the radio on … A boy – small,thin, dressed in mud-brown clothes – leaned out from behind the radio and whispered, “Johnny, will you help me?”.

At first fearful of the recurrent dream, through research, Martin confirms that his nighttime visitor is transporting him to 1940 London. Soon his directionless days become purposeful as he works to research dates, places and identities. Repeated visits to the wartorn city help him to understand how he can “help.”

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and particularly the portions set in the London Blitz. Having said that, I was disappointed by the following exchange,

I keep it hidden under my bed.” she smiled devilishly. “Perhaps you should check under there.”
The General stared at her dumbly. Then he smiled back, slowly, acknowledging the joke. “Uh-huh. Sounds like I’d better.”

As much as I enjoyed the book, I’m just not sure some of the nuances will have meaning for middle grade readers aged 12, 13, 14. Is an allusion like this appropriate or necessary for a book intended for children in grades six through nine?

London Calling at

London Calling at

Super Series Books for Grade Four Boys

Posted on September 6th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Super Series Books for Grade 4 Boys from Storytime Stanouts

ABC Canada Literacy Foundation has identified ‘three potential reading slump times that can hinder a child’s reading development. ‘ Grade four is one of those times. Grade four is just about the time that readers encounter longer chapters, smaller print and more complex vocabulary.

We lose some readers in the transition. My two boys are nine and twelve – one loves to read and one loves to “do” so I know that finding engaging books is critical for this age group. As well, I probably read more kids’ books than most moms so I’m often asked for book recommendations for grade four boys. Many of the best series for this age group are funny (occasionally rude), action-packed, irreverent and very generously illustrated. The books often feature boys who find themselves in trouble – at school, at home, sometimes even in the library.

With nine, ten and eleven year old reluctant readers, we need to keep our goal in mind: get books (almost any books!) into their hands and encourage them to read.

Concurrently, in an ideal world, parents will continue to read aloud more challenging and diverse books – but that is for another day.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School is an excellent series for grade four boys
Sideways Stories from Wayside School – Written by Louis Sachar (author of Holes)
I have had great success with this book. The wacky humor and very short chapters are very appealing to boys. Each chapter tells about one student at Wayside School – you don’t have to read them in order so kids can jump around the book if they wish.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School at

Sideways Stories From Wayside School at

Books in the Wayside School Series
Sideways Stories From Wayside School
Wayside School is Falling Down
Wayside School Gets A Little Stranger

The Adventures of Captain Underpants an excellent series for grade four boys

The Adventures of Captain Underpants– written by Dav Pilkey
Have you ever met a boy who didn’t enjoy the ‘Action, Thrills, and Laffs of a Captain Underpants book? With rude humor and tons of illustrations, this series is great for even the most reluctant reader. Just don’t tell your boys that the series is mom approved – that would spoil the fun!

The Adventures Of Captain Underpants Collectors’ Edition at

Captain Underpants Boxed Set: Books 1-4 at

Books in the Captain Underpants Series silliness and rudeness are perfect for grade four boys
The Adventures of Captain Underpants
Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets
Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds)
Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants
Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman
Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 1: The Night of the Nasty Nostril Nuggets
Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 2: The Revenge of the Ridiculous Robo-Boogers
Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People
Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Re-Turn of Tippy Tinkletrousers
Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers
Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000

Legend of Spud Murphy an excellent series for grade four boys

The Legend of Spud Murphy – written by Eoin Colfer (author of the Artemis Fowl series)
When Will and Marty Woodman are told they must spend the summer in Spud Murphy’s Library, they know it will be a dangerous assignment. They’ve heard about the ‘gas-powered spud gun she keeps under her desk.’ Really good fun and a positive message about books and reading!

Eoin Colfer’s The Legend of Spud Murphy at

Eoin Colfer’s The Legend of Spud Murphy at

Books in the Legends of Series – popular with grade four boys
Eoin Colfer’s Legend of Spud Murphy
Eoin Colfer’s Legend of Captain Crow’s Teeth
Eoin Colfer’s Legend of the Worst Boy in the World

Horrid Henry is an excellent series for grade four boys
Horrid Henry’s Wicked Ways – written by Francesca Simon
One of my nine year old’s favorites, Horrid Henry really is ‘awesomely wicked.’ It is the perfect antidote when you’ve had a rough day and you long to hear about someone who can relate to your troubles.

Horrid Henry at

Horrid Henry at

Books in the Horrid Henry Series – great fun for grade four boys
Horrid Henry
Horrid Henry and the Secret Club
Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy
Horrid Henry’s Nits
Horrid Henry Gets Rich Quick
Horrid Henry’s Haunted House
Horrid Henry and the Mummy’s Curse
Horrid Henry’s Revenge
Horrid Henry and the Bogey Babysitter
Horrid Henry’s Stinkbomb
Horrid Henry’s Underpants
Horrid Henry Meets the Queen
Horrid Henry and the Mega-Mean Time Machine
Horrid Henry and the Football Fiend
Horrid Henry’s Christmas Cracker
Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman
Horrid Henry Robs the Bank
Horrid Henry Wakes the Dead
Horrid Henry Rocks
Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire
Horrid Henry’s Monster Movie
Horrid Henry’s Nighmare
Horrid Henry Krazy Ketchup

Time Warp Trio is an excellent series for grade four boys
The Time Warp Trio by Jon Scieszka
Featuring time travel, adventure, humor and a touch of fantasy, The Time Warp Trio is a great pick for grade four boys. Sam, Fred and Joe use The Book to travel through time from one exciting adventure to another. I’ve had very good success drawing boys into this series. There is something for everyone: pirates, knights, neanderthals and Egyptians.

Time Warp Trio #1 The Knights of the Kitchen Table at

Time Warp Trio #1 Knights Of The The Kitchen Table at

Books in the Time Warp Trio Series – excellent for grade four boys
Knights of the Kitchen Table
The Not-So-Jolly Roger
The Good, the Bad, and the Goofy
Your Mother Was a Neanderthal
Tut Tut
Summer Reading Is Killing Me
It’s All Greek to Me
See You Later Gladiator
Sam Samurai
Hey Kid, Want to Buy a Bridge?
Viking It and Liking It
Me Oh Maya
Da Wild, Da Crazy, Da Vinci
Oh Say, I Can’t See
Marco? Polo!

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35 Ways to Engage Reluctant Readers from Storytime Standouts

Establishing a Sense of Community in My Split Grade Classroom

Posted on September 4th, 2011 by Jody

One of my favourite parts of the school year is the first few weeks. I love mapping things out and getting to know my students. I love choosing my first read aloud and getting them hooked. In the past I have done Tuck Everlasting (I just love this story), Zebra Wall, and Sixth Grade Secrets (one of the funniest books). This year I have decided, thanks to a great workshop I attended, to try something different.

I generally start with a novel as a way of introducing reading strategies, such as predicting, questioning, and summarizing. However, instead of a novel, I am going to start with a book called,  Shi-shi-etko by Nicola I. Campbell and  illustrated by Kim LaFave. It is actually a picture book recommended for ages 4-7. I am teaching grade 4/5 this year but I think that in addition to being able to introduce reading strategies, this story will allow me to establish a stronger sense of community right from the start.

Shi-shi-etko tells about a child’s experience with residential schools. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful. It will give me the opportunity to introduce themes of community, diversity, anxiety, family, and inclusion. These are all topics that need to be present in any classroom, but more so in a split grade classroom I think. In general, split classes are viewed negatively. Parents don’t want their child working below or beyond their capabilities and kids who have waited to experience certain things offered to their grade (like field trips) resent having to share these adventures. These thoughts seem at odds with the growing awareness of the need for differentiation in the classroom. Split grade or straight, more than one level of need is being met in all classrooms. It is important for teachers to find a way to motivate all learners and to do this, a community of acceptance needs to be established as quickly as possible. A classroom that students feel accepted, trusted, and safe in will promote positive learning experiences.

When my students come to my class this year, I want them to worry less about whether or not the work is really grade four work or grade five work. I want them to focus on contributing to a positive community atmosphere. I want them to feel safe to explore what kind of learning best suits them. I want them to accept the ideas, feelings, and beliefs of others and have this reciprocated. While I have grade level curriculum to teach, my hope is that we will go beyond that. I want them to be able to achieve academic success, but more importantly, I want them to acquire the tools that will help them become lifelong learners that accept and appreciate the unique backgrounds of others. I hope that in addition to powerful reading strategies, Shi-shi-etko will pave the way to a safe, strong sense of community in our class, built on trust, tolerance, and acceptance.

Shi-shi-etko at

Shi-shi-etko at

Storytime Standouts recommends picture books that celebrate diversity

b d confusion: Is it ‘b’ or ‘d’ ? Helping young readers decide

Posted on September 3rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts suggests way to help children with b d confusion #prek #kindergarten #letterrecognition #alphabetI made a presentation last night to a preschool parent group. One of the topics of discussion was how we can help children avoid reading a “b” as a “d” and vice versa. At the presentation, I was not addressing serious learning challenges like Developmental Dyslexia ( a condition / learning disability which causes difficulty with reading and writing). We were discussing ways to assist children with letter recognition and b d confusion. We talked about a few ways to help children correctly identify “d” and “b”.

Method #1: Bat, Ball, Dog, Tail

One mom mentioned that in their household they used the following:

“This is the bat, and this is the ball, together they make a “b”. (Visualize: l + o = b, where “l” is a bat and “o” is a ball)

“This is the dog, and this is the tail, together they make a “d”. (Visualize c+ l = d, where “c” is a dog and “l” is its tail).

Method #2: Printing a ‘d’

The technique involves examining how we print the letter “d”. It looks much like a “c” with a “l” added to it. Using this method, we discuss the fact that c + l = d and “d” is after “c” in the alphabet.

b sees d  - One way for young children to avoid b d confusionMethod #3: ‘b’ sees ‘d’

Relying on alphabetical order (and a little play on words)

Method #4: Bulldozing a b works!

If your child knows that bulldozer begins with ‘b,’ he can use a toy bulldozer to push a letter ‘b.’ Letter ‘d’ is not nearly as cooperative because of its shape.

Method #5: bed

My favourite memory device is to make a “bed” with the child’s fingers. Imagine making two small circles with the thumbs and forefingers, and pointing the remaining fingers upward. Push the two circles together to make a “bed” (minus the “e”). The left hand makes the “b” and the right hand makes the “d.” It looks like this: “bd.” “b” is at the beginning of “bed,” “d” is at the end of bed.

Note, these methods will not work with very young children. With Method 3 especially, the child needs to know how to spell ‘bed’ in order for this device to be effective. From my perspective, with very young children, we should not worry about the occasional reversal. We can simply say, ‘That is a b. It makes the /b/ sound.’ With children who are starting to read, I find Method #3 to be very effective and easy to remember. I have seen children as old as seven do a quick check (underneath a desktop or tabletop) and then read a word with confidence.b d confusion - Storytime Standouts suggests ways for your child to know if it is a b or d including imagining a bed. #prek #letterrecognition #alphabet

Hover over the photo for a description of the activity. Click on the photo to read the full post

Alphabet Learning Game for Small Groups

Storytime Standouts Free Printable Alphabets and Games for Learning Letters

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Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Alphabet Activities including b d confusion on Pinterest.

b and d (bed) poster from Activity Village

If you know memory devices for b c confusion, I’d love to hear from you. Please jump in with a comment.

Lois Ehlert’s Inspiring Illustrations – Wag a Tail is Doggone Great!

Posted on September 2nd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Lois Ehlert’s Inspiring Illustrations - Wag a Tail is Doggone GreatWag A Tail written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert
Picture book published by Harcourt, Inc.

A first glance, one might assume that Lois Ehlert’s picture book, Wag A Tail is best suited for preschool-aged children. The brief rhyming text tells a tale of sixteen mostly well-behaved dogs. The graduates of the Bow Wow School meet at a farmers’ market and subsequently move on to a dog park for playtime.

Ms Ehlert’s bold, inspiring illustrations are constructed from handmade paper, scraps of fabric and buttons. They are truly fascinating for children (and adults) who are interested in creating art from odds and ends. This book would be a great jumping off point for teachers who are interested in inspiring primary-aged children to create art from paper, scissors and found objects.

At our house, we had a laugh when we read the descriptions of the Bow Wow School graduates. My nine-year old decided he is much like “Bebe… an Affenpinscher, Loyal, but difficult to train. Determined and fearless, sometimes snappy. This dog was born to run.”

I think I’m more like “Queenie” – especially since she’s “smart, loves children… and doesn’t need much exercise.” If only it were true!

Wag a Tail at

Wag a Tail at

The Higher Power of Lucky and Talking Openly About the Science of Sex

Posted on September 1st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

The Higher Power of Lucky and Talking Openly About the Science of SexIn our household, it is not at all unusual for us to talk about sex at the dinner table. Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I don’t share intimate details of our relationship, but we do talk about the science of sex with our two sons. We use anatomically correct vocabulary. We answer questions, we share facts and our values. We have always operated this way and can’t understand why more people don’t.

Talking openly about the science of sex is one way to protect children from abuse, disease and unwanted pregnancies. When we talk with our children, we pave the way for our children to talk openly with us.

The Higher Power of Lucky written by Susan Patron
Juvenile fiction / chapter book published by Simon & Schuster Richard Jackson

There has been an uproar over Newbery Medal award winning chapter book, The Higher Power of Lucky because of a reference to a dog’s scrotum. (New York Times Column: With One Word, Children’s Book Sets Off Uproar )
I have had the pleasure to read the entire book and would have no hesitation in sharing it with either of my children.

On the first page of the book, Lucky secretly overhears Sammy relate his “rock-bottom” story… “he saw a rattlesnake on the passenger sear biting his dog, Roy, on the scrotum…”

Ten-year-old Lucky has no idea what a scrotum is and, sadly, trusts no one enough to ask. The significance of this is made more poignent when we learn more about Lucky’s circumstances: her mother died in an accident and her father has abandoned her. Lucky fears that her guardian is about to leave her and force her into an orphanage many miles from where she now lives. She fervently hopes she can find her Higher Power before hitting her own personal “rock-bottom.”

For those who understand that giving children scientific names for body parts is not sexy or sexual – award winning chapter book, The Higher Power of Lucky presents no threat. Read it and enjoy the wonderful characters, the dangerous desert setting and Lucky’s joy in finding her Higher Power.

The Higher Power of Lucky won the 2007 Newbery Medal

– See more at:

Susan Patron’s Website

The Higher Power of Lucky at

The Higher Power of Lucky at

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! A practically perfect book for preschoolers

Posted on August 28th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

When it comes to rhyming picture books, I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! is a masterpiece

Storytime Standouts looks at an all-time favorite rhyming picture book for preschool: I Ain't Gonna Paint No More!

I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and I remember, with great fondness, listening to my dad play the piano. It was one of his favourite leisure activities and we’d often sing along. One of the tunes he played was It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More.

I suppose my nostalgia is part of my joy in discovering I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More, written by Karen Beaumont and illustrated by David Catrow. Without hesitation, it makes my Top Ten list for preschool-aged children. It might even make my Top Five list.

With delightful, exuberant illustrations and equally fun text, you and your child will thoroughly enjoy this irresistible romp. Watch and sing along as a young child paints himself (and much of his home) from top to bottom.

If you’re not familiar with the tune, follow the link (above).

So I take some red
and I paint my…
Now I ain’t gonna paint no more.

Aw, what the heck!
Gonna paint my…
Now I ain’t gonna paint no more.

The bonus with this terrific rhyming picture book is the wordplay; your youngster will be thinking of rhymes and anticipating the next word with no effort at all – just do yourself a favor and hide the paints and brushes in case your child is “inspired” to do a little painting herself!

Helping your child to gain phonemic awareness and preparing for formal reading instruction has never been more fun!

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More at

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! at

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