K/1 Students Make Connections Between Books, Libraries & Literacy

As part of our year long Social Studies theme, Friendships & Schools, we have been reading (fiction) picture books where libraries are a central part of the story. Before reading the books we posed the question, How are books our friends? We also introduced the concept of literacy: a person who can read, write and understand. As we talked more about literacy, our K/1 students made the connection that in order to be a literate person, you need to go to school. Moreover, books were important to have not only at school, but at home in order to practice reading. I also shared that through books we gain multiple perspectives which is part of understanding someone else’s viewpoint or culture who is different than ourselves. A little one keenly added, “Like finding common ground.”

A parent shared this heartwarming story about Ronald Clark, who as a boy lived in a New York Public Library. As we learned, many years ago library custodians often lived in the same building. Our class listened to NPR’s StoryCorps, How Living In A Library Gave One Man ‘The Thirst Of Learning’. I noticed that my little ones were listening intently. When I saw that hands were going up I would pause and answer their questions. While the segment is only 2:52 minutes long, with all the wonderings – this exercise in listening was closer to 7 minutes. After, I finally charted their answers to the question, How are books our friends?  

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I love that a little one used the expression “temples of knowledge” as was stated by Ronald Clark in describing his father as the keeper of the temple of knowledge. They also understood that Ronald Clark was the first to not only graduate from high school, but college and then beyond. A student said, “It’s because he lived in the library and he read so much that his brain got big and he kept learning every day.”

Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest. -Lady Bird Johnson






The Story I’ll Tell: Book Review for Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017

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In celebration of Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017, we reviewed The Story I’ll Tell, by Nancy Tupper Ling, illustrated by Jessica Lanan, and published by Lee & Low Books (the largest multicultural children’s book publisher in the country). This lyrical and gorgeous picture book subtly touches upon adoption, the wonderful ways families come together, and the love shared between parent and child. I was excited to read this book to my k/1 class since it tied in nicely with our Social Studies theme, Families & Homes.


We read, The Story I’ll Tell, several times and had many heartfelt conversations. A few even picked up on the adoption slant of the story and shared personal stories. While the rest of the class didn’t understand this concept, we did come to an understanding that families come together through close friendships, religious institution, neighborhoods, school communities and work relations. Also, that families come together in many special ways and the most important thing is love.
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We asked families to share with their children how they came to their home. We said that their “coming home” stories could be factual, magical, or a hybrid of both. Most of the little ones found inspiration from this story, saying that they came to their home on a hot air balloon, or on an ocean wave. But some shared very specific and factual events to tell how they came to their home. As they narrated their stories I laughed, cried and felt much joy to be privy to them. Then they chose a sentence from their “coming home” story that best described their journey home. Their complete stories were pasted on the back of the heart mobiles.



One day at work my parents met. Later, up in Big Sur, at Pfeiffer Beach, they made a wish for me. I came on a whale and found them. They took me home and I became part of their family. We are a fun family with a lot of laugher.


I was on a rainbow star and I slid down the rainbow. The same star came back and took me to my parents. They screamed because they were so excited. And then, another star slid down and brought my twin brother, Grant. I brought rainbows and rainbow stars to my family.


They were at my grandma’s, my dad’s mom. My mom wanted to wash laundry but grandma’s washing machine was broken. So she went to their old house and washed the laundry there instead. She was washing the clothes, and sitting on the couch with her cat, Whiskers. My mom felt contractions, so she had to gather all the clothes, but they were wet. She put them into the car. And then she went back to my grandma’s house and told my dad and they went to the hospital. And then, when it was time, I came out like a football! My dad thought the doctor would miss, but he was wrong because the doctor did catch me. My parents were so happy.


One magical night I was in an invisible hot air balloon. It drifted over the sparkly ocean. The wise wind blew the hot air balloon to my family. When my mom saw me, she smiled and held me to her heart. My brothers were excited! My dad was sleeping so he didn’t see me ‘til the next morning. When my dad saw me he smiled and hugged me.




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 on the ongoing need to include kid’s 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 are 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

 Author Sponsor include: Karen Leggett AbourayaVeronica AppletonSusan Bernardo, Kathleen BurkinshawMaria DismondyD.G. DriverGeoff Griffin Savannah HendricksStephen HodgesCarmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid ImaniGwen Jackson,  Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana LlanosNatasha Moulton-LevyTeddy O’MalleyStacy McAnulty,  Cerece MurphyMiranda PaulAnnette PimentelGreg RansomSandra Richards, Elsa TakaokaGraciela Tiscareño-Sato,  Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang

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 work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.


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


Rambunctious Boys and Little Playtime


Last week during a math lesson in my first grade class I was very aware that the content I was covering was over their heads. The lesson objective was solving for the missing addend. Let me just say that I don’t remember learning this in Sister Agnes Marie’s first grade class. Secondly, my rambunctious little guy was obviously over this lesson and over me.  During the forty five minute lesson I had asked him to simmer down, pay attention, stop rocking on his seat, stop playing with the math manipulatives, and to change his color on the behavior chart. My rambunctious little guy sits within arm distance from me and I often reach over in the hopes that my magic tap will calm him down. Everyday my team teacher and I remind him of the importance of paying attention and doing one’s best work. This particular day I asked him what he needed from me. He looked solemnly at me with his big brown eyes and said this, “Can I have lunch recess?”  I was speechless.

Coincidently, that very day my sister sent me an article by Christina Hoff Sommers, What Schools Can Do To Help Boys Succeed.  Sommers proposes three simple changes to help boys have more success in school.

1.  Bring Back Recess

Ironically, recess is usually the first thing that is taken away from kids when they break a rule. And for a little guy who is in constant motion, running around on the playground would be more beneficial than sitting in my class with his head down. The article also points outs that 39% of first-graders get about 20 minutes of recess each day in comparison to Japanese children who get 10 minutes of play each hour. Nixing Recess: The Silly, Alarmingly Popular Way to Punish Kids advises that “research has shown that taking away recess does not make classroom behavior any better, and, in fact, it might make things worse in the case of students who are misbehaving because of an excess of energy or boredom.” How many times has my rambunctious little guy been denied the opportunity to blow off some steam? Unfortunately, too many times.

2. Turn Boys Into Readers

I love picture books and I read three different books a day to my first graders. However, the picture books that I tend to choose for read alouds are ones that I, a female teacher, find appealing. I need to get comic books because truth be told, I don’t have any in my classroom library. I also need more non fiction books and a variety of books that little boys will find appealing.  Alex Carrera, a fellow colleague has already started to think outside the box by bringing her little dogs to class to encourage her fourth grade boys to read. 

3. Work With the Young Male Imagination


I’m not too fond of vampires, pirates and other ghoulish things. But as I’m realizing, some little boys are and I need to foster their creativity.  This past Halloween another rambunctious little guy couldn’t stop talking about monsters and scary skeletons. If it were up to him, he’d draw all day and he’s pretty talented as you can see by this picture.  Last year, I had a another little boy in my class who would rather doodle cartoon like images instead of listening intently to class lessons. Lucky for him, his mom enrolled him in an art class. He came alive when he talked about his Wednesday art classes. I was invited to attend his art class’ puppet show and it was spectacular. This little boy was a very different student than the one that showed up to my class. He was excited and engaged!

Lastly, while these articles have been eye openers, I’m not quite sure how I will move forward and implement changes in my classroom. But I do understand that my rambunctious little guy needs his playtime. Imagine when I tell him, “Go out and play. We’ll figure something out together.” Priceless.