Saturday, June 29, 2013

Unleashing Readers Launch Week June 29, 2013

It's Launch Week!
Welcome Unleashing Readers readers (that sounds a bit off) I am very happy to take part in helping to launch Unleashing Readers. Please read on (and on and on...) to see the great books I am book talking today.

I have about one hundred, no make that two hundred, favorite read aloud books and since I am a librarian, that is no exaggeration. Mo Willems is my hero for the PK set, Karma Wilson's bear books are great teaching devices for everything from how to fight germs to learning about friendship. Helen Ketteman  and Eric Kimmel are my "Go To" folks when I need a Texas Twisted fairy tale.

Oh heck, I am going to give you a special link right now because I am such a nice librarian:  Eric Kimmel Books read aloud by Eric Kimmel, awesome author.

Jangles: a BIG fish story by David Shannon

  • Adventure
  • Animal Stories
  • Comedy and Humor
  • Legends and Myths
Interest level: LG (K-3) BUT...I read this to my entire school ages 3 years to twelve years. Everyone loved it for one reason or another. We live in a coastal community so many children had some exposure to fishing to some extent. We see shrimp boats outside our school windows overlooking the bay each morning. This book was a good fit for my school.

Jangles is a humorous story with a good character message. Treat others how you want to be treated and do the right thing. It is also a good mentor text to use for introducing genre: Legends/Tall Tales.

Jangles is a good source for text to self, text to text connections. Kids quickly recognize the bizarre looking characters as representative of David Shannon's work as an illustrator. I do not mean bizarre in a rude way, that's just the way his characters look. If you don't believe me, look at the page where Jangles rescues a baby. The baby creeps out many kids and me too. In every class, a kid would say "That looks like No David" or "That's like that Pirate book about diapers. (Pirates Don't Change Diapers by Melinda Long, Illustrated by David Shannon).

My Jangles website with discussion questions and activities.

 Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Interest level: MG (4-8)

Everybody uses words to express themselves.  Except me.  And I bet most people don’t realize the real power of words.  But I do. Thoughts need words.  Words need a voice.

 This title was nominated for the Texas Bluebonnet Award so I incorporated it into my library lessons. Out of My Mind has been capturing student interest since the day I introduced it in my library in 2010. It is one of the most highly recommended books by students to other students. When I hear a student recommending it, the advice is not a simple "it's a good book". Students go into great detail to explain why this book touches them. It is a pretty powerful tool when one student recommends a favorite book to another. 

Out of My Mind offers many opportunities for in depth discussions on social issues and how all people should be treated. It also contains  opportunities for problem solving: Melody, the main character, has to search for a way for her voice to be heard.

 Listen HERE to Sharon Draper describing her book, explaining why she felt it was important to speak for kids who cannot speak, and hear a short excerpt from the book.

See how I used Out of My Mind with my 2011 Bluebonnet Book Club

Simon & Schuster's Reading Group Guide for Out of My Mind

Elijah of Buxton by master storyteller Christopher Paul Curtis has everything you need for looking for close reading. Rich characters, plot lines, sub stories, humor, recalling memories, and historical relevance. This is such a great book that it should be read and then listened to again on audio.

Bone series by Jeff Smith

Hear author Jeff Smith tell about the Bone series
3 lost cousins find themselves in a mysterious valley among dragons, princesses, and monsters.  See? Something for boys and girls.

I think all classroom libraries should start with forms of graphic novels. This is because some many readers of all ages struggle and graphic novels are useful stepping stones to understanding literature. Readers are given the story in small chunks. It is clear who the speakers are because of the word bubbles. The illustrations help to guide the story. These parts all together are very helpful to a student's journey into comprehension. There are many forms of graphic novels: fiction, non-fiction, historical fiction, classics, science topics, war stories, etc. Lots of high quality material is available now days.

Favorite Book
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
Genre: Historical Fiction/-Survival Stories

Left alone on a beautiful but isolated island off the coast of California, a young Indian girl spends eighteen years, not only merely surviving through her enormous courage and self-reliance, but also finding a measure of happiness in her solitary life.

I read this book in the sixth grade and it really got to me. My eleven year old self liked that the girl in the book had a secret name- Karana. So my friends and I made up our own secret names. we thought we were so cool.

I have read this lovely book numerous times and still love it. I have always preferred biographies and historical fiction because they are real things that really happened to real people. Some one experienced these events. That gets to me. When I was young and my family would go camping, I would go off and sit by the river and pretend I was Karana and I would force my dog to be Rontu, the wild dog. She preferred to be scratched behind the ears. Last year, I had an Epiphany of sorts. I love the television reality show Survivor and have watched it since year one. As I was book talking Island of the Blue Dolphins, I froze as it dawned on me why I love that tv show. It was because of this book. Wow-eye opener. This gives so much truth to "books become a part of who we are".

Here is a recent news article that reignited my passion for this wonderful story.

It's your turn! Please let me know what books you think would best fit these categories. 


  1. Lots of excellent books here! Thanks for hearing the twisted fairy tales. Fantastic.

    Crystal @ Reading Through Life

  2. Oops. I must have had a typo. is where you can find my picks.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I will check our your blog

  3. I was just thinking about how much I loved Island of the Blue Dolphins as a kid. What a great pick!

  4. Julee,

    I have not heard of your read aloud choices, but I love the others you chose so I'm sure I would love it too. Out of my Mind is such an amazing book and Bone is LOVED in my classroom as well.

    Thank you for being part of the blog hop :)

    1. They are really fun titles. Thanks for inviting me to your launch party. I enjoyed it. Let me know if you want to connect again sometime.


Thank you for verifying. Your efforts are appreciated.