As National School Library Month draws to a close, I find myself sifting through the last of my Shelf Challenge piles. I have thoroughly enjoyed making the time to slow down and really explore a specific area of the library collection. I’ve rediscovered childhood favorites such as George and Martha by James Marshall. I’ve found great titles that are just in need of some shiny brand-new covers and a little talking-up. I’ve also found some books that nicely fill those last-minute requests that all librarians receive every day for picture books on a particular topic that our catalog’s subject headings don’t quite capture. See my slideshow below for these “Above and Beyond the Subject Headings” books.
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I have also found some things that just need to be weeded out to make room for the gems to really shine. It’s just like weeding a garden. Here are my “gems of the Ms”.
I just love Patricia McKissack. I am a huge history buff and love primary sources, so appreciate McKissack’s writing inspired by objects. Here are three of my favorite mentor texts that encourage young writers to use family treasures as inspiration for their own stories. Ma Dear’s Aprons, Mirandy and Brother Wind, and The All-I’ll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll.
The Butterfly Tree by Sandra Markle is a great example of showing instead of telling. Markle uses beautiful descriptive vocabulary to illustrate in words one particular memory.
I am always on the lookout for books that convey a strong sense of place. Tilde Michel’s At the Frog Pond is one of these books. Her writing carries us right to the banks of the pond. Not only do we learn how a tadpole turns into a frog, but we learn how to write specifically about a certain place.
Morning Milking by Linda Lowe Morris is about a young girl who helps her dad with the milking chores every morning, all the while trying to figure out how to save every single experience, every single moment. From the barn to the kitchen table, we experience every single sight, smell and sound the girl loves about the place as she describes it. She finally realizes that her family knows the answer to her problem. Morris writes: “They took the things they loved and turned them into stories.” Wow. I got goosebumps. Really!
Finally, any of my students would be able to tell you that I thoroughly enjoy getting silly with funny books. Manners Mash-Up: a Goofy Guide to Good Behavior is just so silly. It is a joy to read and even more of a joy to watch students’ faces as they read the illustrations. This is a fabulous collaborative effort by 14 of today’s best authors/illustrators. I Will Not Read This Book by Cece Meng is a wonderful readaloud for modeling fluency and reading with expression and feeling. I love it when I get to use a LOUD voice in the library!
Thank you Matthew Winner for inspiring and encouraging me to slow down and do a little exploring for the benefit of my students!