Monthly Archives: October 2013

Guys Read

One of the main reasons I’m trying to read every book in the library to Bubba is because I want him to see how much I love reading, and I want him to share that love of reading.  I want Bubba to know that reading’s not girly – that boy’s read, too.

Obviously, I want to do the same thing for the boys in my class, so I’ve recruited another male teacher in my building and we’re going to start a Guys Read club this quarter.

This past summer, a colleague introduced me to Guys Read (which is a literacy program for boys founded by author and First National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature, Jon Scieszka).  Guys Read’s mission is to help boys become self-motivated, lifelong readers, so I’m really excited about getting a club started at my school.

Does anyone have experience with Guys Read (or have any good ideas for my Guys Read Club of 1st-3rd graders)?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

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Will He Like His Signed Books?

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to meet another great author and get a couple more books signed for Bubba!  I always love adding to his collection (which includes works by Newbery Medal winners like Rebecca Stead and Clare Vanderpool, local authors, Caldacott Medal winners like Mordicai Gerstein and Eric Rohman, beloved children’s book authors like Marc Brown, T.A. Barron, and David M. Schwartz, and on and on and on).

Some of the many books I've had signed for Bubba over the years.

Some of the many books I’ve had signed for Bubba over the years.

I can’t wait to give Bubba these books as he gets older because I can’t wait to see his reactions to each of them.  It’s really going to be hard to wait to give him books like Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me (especially when I’ve been collecting $2 bills for a Fred Flintstone bank that I’m to give to him with the book – and if you don’t get that reference, you REALLY need to read this book!) but I’m sure the wait will be worth it.

One of the books I had signed for Bubba this weekend will be especially fun to see his reaction.  On her book Rip Tide, Kat Falls wrote the following:

Bubba's latest signed book.

Bubba’s latest signed book.

How cool is that?!  When she asked who she should make it out to, I told her “Michael” (since I doubt he’ll want to go by “Bubba” his whole life), and I told her it was for my 2 year old son… She decided to add the “great dad” part, not me 🙂

I can’t wait to see his reaction to it… I wonder if he’ll see it the same way or if he’ll just think he’s got a big nerd for a dad!

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How Little I Know…

One of the best things about trying to read Bubba every book in our little library is that I’m constantly reading books by authors that I’ve never read before.  There have been a couple occasions where I went from never having heard of an author to a huge fan of their work!

Take, for example, author Emily Gravett.  Just the other day, I’d never heard of her, or read any of her books.  However, when we got to her section of the shelf, I was blown away by how many books she’d written – as well as the quality of each of those books!

From simple books, like Orange Pear Apple Bear, The Odd Egg, and Blue Chameleon (which Bubba really enjoyed) to Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears (which I thought was very interesting), the more I read, the more I wondered how I had never heard of Emily Gravett before!

I have a feeling that, as Bubba and I travel on our journey, we’ll continue to “discover” other great authors like Emily Gravett… and prove the old saying true, “The more I learn, the more I learn how little I know.”

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Scientific and Engineering Practices in Children’s Fiction

With more than 700 books read so far, I’m starting to notice some pretty consistent patterns.  These patterns have given me a better understanding of what I like in a picture book, and what Bubba likes in his picture books (at 2 years old).  They’ve also helped me determine what Bubba and I don’t like in our picture books.

Another thing I’m starting to learn is what publishers of children’s books think will sell.  Obviously, there will always be a lot of fairy tale, princess, superhero, TV, and movie character books.  I’m also noticing that leprechauns, dinosaurs, and certain other animals keep showing up again and again, too.

I’ve found it very interesting – learning these types of things – but I’m also a little concerned that there are a couple things that really seem to be missing when it comes to fictional picture books – in particular, science and engineering practices.

Yes, I know that sounds like a ridiculous statement, and don’t get me wrong – I love a completely nonsensical story as much as the next person… and I know there are books about scientists and engineers out there.  However, books that feature scientific and/or engineering practices seem to be few and far between.  Why is that?  As a teacher of 1st graders, I know that kids LOVE learning about science… so, why not feed that natural curiosity?

Why aren’t publishers finding more stories that feature these skills?  A book could feature a skill and still have a princess, be funny, rhyme, and be full of adventure.

I understand that there are plenty of non-fiction books that feature these skills, but lets be honest… kids love fiction a whole lot more than non-fiction.

It would just be nice if children’s fiction focused a little more on some of the “Scientific and Engineering Practices,” which are:

Asking questions and defining problems

Developing and using models

Planning and carrying out investigations

Analyzing and interpreting data

Using mathematics and computational thinking

Constructing explanations and designing solutions

Engaging in argument from evidence

Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Maybe someday this will happen… a guy can dream, right?

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My Bad Habit

I’ve got a bad habit that I need to come clean about… I’ve got a habit of buying Newbery Medal winning books whenever I get a chance.  I like to think that Bubba will appreciate having so many award winning books when he gets older, but in the back of my head I know he probably won’t read most of them.

I keep buying them, though.  I buy them at bookstores, garage sales, Goodwill stores, and book fairs.  I just can’t pass up on an opportunity to buy a copy of a Newbery that I don’t have yet!

As of right now, I’ve got every Newbery Medal winner from 1967 to the present (and a smattering of others between 1922 and 1967).

Is this normal?  Should my wife be taking me to a Twelve-Step program to break me of this addiction?  Hopefully when Bubba gets older he won’t look down on his father for this habit!

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Long Road Ahead

It’s been a while since my last post, but I just wanted to give a quick update on how Bubba and I did last month.  In all, we were able to read 157 new books from our library!  This doesn’t count the 20+ times I read Carole Lexa Schaefer’s ABCers and his other favorites around the house that he insist his mother and I read to him on a daily basis.

That’s an average of 5.23 books each day… that’s just a little better than the 5-a-day I was hoping for.  We’re already on the G’s (authors who have a last name beginning with G), and we’ve read through six full shelves!  We still have a long road ahead of us, but I feel like we’re finally making consistent progress.

I’m a little worried about what will happen during the winter months when it’s dark by 5pm, the bitter cold shows it’s face, and/or there’s too much snow for us to safely walk to the library.  I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

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