A Book All About the Power to Choose

You know those books we loved to read as kids where you got to choose your own adventure? Well, What Should Danny Do? by Ganit & Adir Levy is an updated version of those stories with a very important concept- the power to choose!

Danny is the main character who readers are helping make decisions. He is a superhero in training, which is why he has a special cape. This is such a fun idea for young readers to attach to- who doesn't want to be a superhero??

Many times when we ask young readers what they SHOULD be doing, the answer is very different than what they actually do when faced with a similar situation. This story encourages readers to explore all the different options- even if they know it is a wrong choice, they can still see what happens to Danny by making that choice. It helps readers really see how your day can end up taking a turn for the worse, or for the better, from one small decision. The more practice readers get with using their power to choose, the better decisions they will make when faced with making their own choices! Getting to help Danny through a variety of scenarios is the perfect way to get readers to understand the power to choose.

The various stories and illustrations are so engaging for young readers. The decisions they are required to make for Danny are ones that they likely face on a regular basis! This book gets readers talking and leads to great discussions all about making decisions. It can be read frequently in the classroom or at home, allowing different readers to make the decision each time. Readers will cringe at some choices and cheer with delight at others!

The book includes symbols (as seen in the bottom right with the yellow arrow) and a guide explaining what the various symbols mean: turn to the next page, return to where you started to make your choice, reaching an ending, etc. It is so kid-friendly, encouraging them to just keep on reading and making choices. I love that readers can change their mind many times to see what Danny does in different situations. This book truly encourages readers to realize the powerf of their day to day decisions, which we all know is so important for our readers to realize from an early age. Readers will love having the opportunity to change their mind (making good or not so good) decisions to see how Danny's day is altered.

You can check out the What Should Danny Do? website here or purchase the book right on Amazon here. If you purchase from their website, be sure to check out the superhero capes as well- such a great way to remind readers of their power to choose. I love the idea of having a different reader "be the superhero" each time you read through the story. That reader then gets to wear the cape while they make decisions for Danny. Right now you can even use code: TOTHECORE on their website for $3 off!

 I'm so thankful I got a chance to check this book out- I highly recommend doing the same- you and your readers won't be disappointed!
Happy reading!


Why Scholastic Book Clubs is Amazing and a Book Box Giveaway!

Just last week I attended the Scholastic Book Fair and I have to say those book fairs will always hold a special place in my heart! Ever since I went to my first one when I was a little kid, I've gotten excited for the book fair. The idea of all those books in one room is just the best! It's so hard to not just buy every single book.

I'm so excited to be teaming up with Scholastic Book Clubs for this post because I love how easy they make it for teachers and families to get great literacy materials into the hands of kids! Scholastic truly gives teachers the opportunity to purchase books for their classroom library in an affordable way. With monthly book club orders, it's affordable for families too! Ever since my first year teaching, I've used Scholastic as a way to build my own classroom library and always encouraged families to order books as well. As a person who is passionate about literacy and providing all readers with engaging reading material, Scholastic is my top go-to resource for books. If you're looking at just starting your classroom library, or simply want to add more excellent books to your library, I highly recommend checking Scholastic Book Clubs out.

Check out just a few reasons why Scholastic Book Clubs is fabulous below. Also, find out how to enter a giveaway for your very own Discovery Book Box, full of wonderful titles to add to your classroom library!

1. One Dollar Book Deals featuring Your Students’ Favorite Titles
Each month, Scholastic Book Clubs offers a wide variety of “$1 book deals,” making it easy for both teachers and parents to afford high-quality reads for kids to read independently in the classroom and at home. Be sure to also check out Clubs’ blog and social accounts for weekly dollar deals.

2. “Book Bundle” Collections to Help You Quickly Grow Your Library  
Every Scholastic Book Clubs flyer includes a great selection of book bundles, curated by our editors, for teachers to add up to 5 to 10 books in their classroom for only a few dollars! Topics range from real life heroes to holiday-themed collections to laugh-out-loud reads.

3. NEW Apple Recognition and Rewards Program
The Apple Recognition and Rewards program is a way to say “thank-you” for teachers—and students— who go the extra mile to foster a love of reading. Every teacher this year joins the program automatically. Check out additional rewards including free shipping, surprise gifts, Scholastic Teacher Magazine subscription discounts, and more to create a dynamic, book-loving classroom.

4. Monthly Rewards and “Bonus Points” for More Free Books & Classroom Supplies
Each month, Scholastic Book Clubs offers several ways for teachers to add even more  free books and resources for their classroom, such as furnishings, educational games and posters. This year, every dollar a classroom spends on an order, the teacher earns “one bonus point.” These points . For example, this October, schools that order over $50 will earn an additional 10 free books.

5. Introduce a New Teacher to Clubs 

Teachers who are already enrolled in Scholastic Book Clubs are eligible for special “bonus points” when they help new teachers get started with the program. This year, both teachers will receive an extra 250 bonus points to help build their classroom library full of free books!

If you don't have an account yet, but want to get one started, this super brief video shows you exactly how simple it is to get your Scholastic Book Clubs account started!

Do you want a chance to win a bunch of amazing books for your classroom library? Simply head over to our Instagram or Facebook page to enter! It's real simple, I promise. :)
Happy reading!

Fluency Passages Organization

Most schools use a benchmark Fluency assessment system three times a year, as well as some form of progress monitoring throughout the year. My little readers always got so frustrated with the selections that they had to read because the passages were incredibly challenging, even more since they were struggling readers. Sometimes they'd barely make it through a sentence or two and the timer went off! I wanted to help my readers build their confidence so that they could perform better on these assessments as well, which is why I created my leveled Fluency passages a few years ago. I finally finished the packs, which I now have from Level A-V for Kindergarten-5th grade. In addition, I made these binder covers/spines to help get organized!

Within each pack, I include 15 leveled passages (3-5 per level). Readers go through each passage 3 times with you (or an adult helper in your room) and their goal is to beat their previous score. Readers also check off how they did (read too fast, too slow, just right, etc) and then after the third read, they write a goal for themselves. My little readers LOVE their Fluency folders and love seeing their growth. I include two different tracking sheets, one which has a comprehension check as well, if you want to ask two questions about each passage, which I include in each pack. The tracking sheets are also a nice page to bring to RTI meetings or simply when discussing students with other teachers or their parents. Check out all my Fluency Passages packs here!

This short video provides a closer look at how you can use the Fluency folders with your readers:

I included a variety of cover options depending on which packs you own- grab the free download below! 

Download the free color version and the b&w version!

Check out a few tips for teaching fluency in the classroom and all the components of my Fluency Passages here: 

Happy reading!

Guided Reading Binder Covers Freebies!

It's only taken me 3 years since I began creating my leveled Guided Reading passages to do this, but... I finally have binder covers and spines to help keep your guided reading materials organized! These align with all my Guided Reading Passages packs, Level A-V.

I created covers and spines for all Levels A-V and the bundles, in color and in b&w, which is perfect for printing on cardstock if you want to save on colored ink. I also created a tub label if you put all your stuff in a bucket or container similar to the one above.

Grab the freebie binder covers, spines and tub labels here- color version and b&w version. You can check out ALL my guided reading passages packs here. I hope this helps you get organized with all your guided reading materials!

Check out all the components of my Guided Reading Passages here: 

Happy Reading!


Two Fun New Books!

Oh how I love reading new stories! I was excited to check out these brand new stories from Innovation Press. They are both wonderfully written, in engaging formats, that readers will enjoy! Old Tracks, New Tricks is great for early readers, while Zoey and Sassafras is a great read aloud chapter book, or appropriate for established readers in elementary school.

Old Tracks, New Tricks is great for early readers. It is an engaging story with great images throughout that will captivate young readers' minds as you read to them. I love how this story gets readers to really think of other things that can be done with simple materials, that may initially be intended for one particular use. In this story, the train tracks go off on their own to create various things they come up with, together. The trains see how much fun the tracks are having and realize they want to be creative too, instead of doing the same thing all the time. This book allows readers to see just how creative your imagination can be!

I created some reading response pages to go along with this story. Little readers will love thinking more about the story as they respond to questions and come up with their own ideas of what to create using these pages. You can grab this reading response freebie here! You can purchase this book on Amazon here. (I don't receive anything for promoting this book- I just enjoyed it and wanted to share it with you!)

Zoey and Sassafras is such a fun read! Readers will immediately get attached to the main character, Zoey and her cat, Sassafras as they pal around solving problems, together. This story is sure to get readers' minds going on how they can solve their own problems. I love the creative way the author presents the idea of solving problems- through saving a magical dragon in her barn! Zoey shows important steps to follow as one is trying to solve a problem. The problem she is trying to solve may be different than everyday issues kids face, but it provides a great base for what to do when solving problems.

I created a few reading response pages to go with the book. Get your readers thinking about what went on in the story and beyond, when solving their own problems, using these pages. You can grab this reading response freebie here! This book (and others in the series!!!) can be purchased on Amazon, here. (I don't receive anything for promoting this book- I just enjoyed it and wanted to share it with you!)

Happy Reading!


Mush Mush Readers

Everyone knows how much I love books. I love writing stories, reading for pleasure or to gain knowledge and of course, reading to and with my readers. I get so excited when I stumble across new books. Today I wanted to share with you all about a new favorite set of mine that is perfect for early readers: Mush Mush Sight Word Readers.

These stories are written by author, Joanna Merideth, a former teacher who has a huge passion for getting books into the hands of readers. She wrote these stories with her students in mind, knowing how hard it is to find great books for those early readers. She focuses on making engaging stories that are readable for those readers, concentrating on sight words. As we all know, the more resources we have to practice sight words, the better. These books are especially fantastic since they give those early readers a chance to read the sight words in context! I can't stress enough the importance of readers seeing things in context, rather than just alone on a card. In context means they are understanding the meaning and use of the words at the same time. Yay!

You can check out more about these fabulous books here! I highly recommend them for your early readers or any readers who struggle with recognizing basic sight words. These texts will have your readers recognizing these sight words in no time. I love this set of books for your earliest guided reading groups who are reading at Level Pre A or Level A. Take a closer look at the books below!

The first book in the set introduces readers to Mush Mush, the beloved cat. It's a perfect way to get readers excited about these stories.

These books are so colorful, readers are instantly interested in reading them. They also stay engaged while reading the entire text as they flip each page to see the new illustrations and repetitive text.

Just a few reasons you want these books in the hands of your readers!

 Let's look even closer:

Those early readers greatly benefit from pointing at each word to help them recognize words and not skip any. The little paw prints under each word make tracking simple for readers!

Having an image above challenging words is super helpful when decoding is too challenging based on a reader's current stage.

Isn't it the best when you already have questions and activities ready for your readers?? These questions and activity idea will help you always feel prepared!

Simply checking the back of the book will let you know what sight words are focused on in each story. Perfect way to know which words to introduce or review during word work.

Have a great day!


Literacy Ideas for February

I know this month is halfway over, but I wanted to provide just a few literacy ideas that are perfect for February, winter or I guess any time really! I've posted about these on Facebook and Instagram already, but figured I'd throw a post together for our blog, too.

Winter drags on here in Chicagoland (though we've had a mild one so far), so keeping kids excited about learning is extra helpful in the winter months. I try to add in fun little activities to guided reading groups to keep the engagement up. Here are two quick videos explaining the word work ideas that help make the winter months better for teachers and readers.

One other idea that seems perfect for February with all the hearts, but truly is engaging for readers at any time of year...Have you seen these fun emoji felt stickers for just $1 in Target's Bullseye's Playground (aka The Dollar Spot)?? These are perfect for an engaging reading response activity. After students read their text in guided reading, they can each select an emoji which best represents their feelings toward the text. During the follow up discussion of the text, readers can then share, with specific evidence from the text, why they chose the emoji. These can also be used to describe characters from the text- happy, silly, cool, etc. Only thing you really need to do is introduce the emojis beforehand and come up with meanings for each emoji as a group. Or, readers can individually decide what each emoji means to them!

Have a great day!

Multicultural Children's Book Day: January 27th

January 27th is Multicultural Children's Book Day! I'm here to share with you one very meaningful book that is a great resource for any classroom.

Book info:
Title: Daddy, There's a Noise Outside
Author: Kenneth Braswell
Illustrator: Joe Dent and Julie Anderson
Publisher: Father's Incorporated

This book is written in a dialogue format which is very engaging for young readers. It is a quick, important book to read and appropriate for elementary students, and even middle school students. It is great for a read aloud when discussing the very serious topic of protesting and racism. The author geared it toward explaining protesting to primary students and I think it is a great way to begin a discussion with your little readers. Depending on where you teach, your students may be dealing with some very heavy issues related to race. This book is well written and explains what the outside noise is all about (protestors). This text provides information about protests in a simple to understand manner for kids. It will help calm your students who may have anxiety about such things. Even if you don't live in an area directly involved with protests, this book still is a useful resource to help inform your students about things they may have heard about on the news/from their parents, etc. 

After reading the text, it is important to continue a meaningful discussion with your students on the topic. Encourage your students to share their thoughts and any experience they may have with the topic. Sometimes all kids need is a book and caring adult to help them open up about their fears. I encourage you to check the book out!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is in its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.  

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team is on a mission to change all of that. 

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include ScholasticBarefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. RomanAudrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTVCapstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle SwiftWisdom Tales PressLee& Low BooksThe Pack-n-Go GirlsLive Oak MediaAuthor Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

MCBD Links to remember:
MCBD site: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta 
Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teachers-classroom-kindness-kit/
Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents: http://bit.ly/1sZ5s8i

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

One last thing: Grab a free Kindness Classroom Kit to help spread kindness!

Have a great day!


Ideas for Teaching Comprehension

Do you still have some little readers who just can't seem to comprehend much while they read? Actually paying attention to the story and understanding it doesn't come easy to all readers. It doesn't matter if a story is read to them or if they are reading on their own. Comprehension can be a true challenge! I made a short video with a few ideas that you can try out right away to get all your readers to improve their comprehension. The ideas provided are perfect for the winter months, but really, the ideas can be applied year round with any theme!

Also, you'll see this freebie referenced in the video. It's a set of passages with a winter theme that are perfect for focusing on simple comprehension questions. You can read the story to your readers or have them read on their own. The same can be done for the questions- discuss them together first, then have them write the answers by copying information from the text. Or, if they are capable, let your readers independently answer the questions and then as a follow up, discuss the story with you. You can grab this freebie by clicking here!

I also have a set of comprehension stories that can be used year round that I mentioned in the video as well. Check out the set of comprehension stories here!

Have a great day!

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