Leo Lionni

We’ve had a month of dark foggy days, and this week our gray rainy days will return. It’s early-January winter! I am reminded of a favorite book, read aloud many times in my classroom[s] over the years, and it brightened this gray winter morning to pull it off my shelf and re-read it.

Frederick

Frederick, by Leo Lionni, is about a group of mice gathering food for the winter. All are busy except for Frederick, who seems to be sitting on a rock in the sunshine doing nothing. But he IS doing something…he is collecting sun rays and colors and words. Later, in the middle of the dark, cold winter, when the food is scarce and the spirits are low, Frederick begins to tell the mice his stories. He weaves his memories of sunshine and colors into beautiful words which warm the hearts and lifts the spirits of his fellow mice. He is a storyteller and a poet!

Frederick2

Fall Shared Reading

Our Reading Rug…where we sit to share all these wonderful books.

When I say that I haven’t been reading very much recently, it’s not exactly true. My own reading has slowed down for many reasons, but I am still reading every day and going through books like crazy! Here’s why…

This is my 27th year of teaching, and this year I have the world’s sweetest class of Second Graders. They love to read and love listening to stories, so we are compiling quite a list of books shared (our Read Aloud books). We have a Read Aloud time every morning after recess, and it’s amazing how many books you can read in just 20-30 minutes a day! Here’s our list of the books we have shared during our Read Aloud time on our Reading Rug so far this year:

  1. Strega Nona, by Tomie dePaola
  2. Strega Nona: Her Story, by Tomie dePaola
  3. Big Anthony: His Story, by Tomie dePaola
  4. Strega Nona’s Magic Lessons, by Tomie dePaola
  5. Big Anthony and the Magic Ring, by Tomie dePaola
  6. Strega Nona Meets Her Match, by Tomie dePaola
  7. Strega Nona Takes a Vacation, by Tomie dePaola
  8. Strega Nona’s Harvest, by Tomie dePaola
  9. The Sunflower House, by Eve Bunting
  10. Tomie dePaola, by Eric Braun
  11. Mercy Watson to the Rescue, by Kate DiCamillo
  12. Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride, by Kate DiCamillo
  13. Akimbo and the Elephants, by Alexander McCall Smith
  14. Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen
  15. Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White
  16. Blueberries For Sal, by Robert McCloskey
  17. Squanto and the Pilgrims, by A.M. Anderson
  18. Room on the Broom, by Julia Donaldson (Thanks, Mrs. Lux, for reading this to us at our Halloween party!)
  19. Gooney Bird Greene, by Lois Lowry
  20. Catwings, by Ursula K. Le Guin
  21. Catwings Return, by Ursula K. Le Guin
  22. Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings, by Ursula K. Le Guin
  23. Jane on her Own: A Catwings Tale, by Ursula K. Le Guin
  24. Currently reading: Helen Keller, by Margaret Davidson

A Father’s Day Book

A very happy Father’s Day to all you wonderful fathers out there!  My husband and I wanted to spend today with our son and grandson, but both of us have nasty mean colds, so we’re stuck at home. We hope to spend some time with them NEXT weekend, when we are well again.

So in celebration of Father’s Day, I am reposting a little piece I wrote back in February about one of my class’s favorite Read Alouds of this school year. After we finished reading it, I received this email from a parent. It was the compliment of a career for me, but also shows you how much children love this book!

Since my daughter is going to miss reading books with you more than anything else in her school life so far — would you have any recommendations for summer reading, books you wish you would have had more time to read with the class?  
 
E gave her Dad a copy of “Danny Champion of the World” for his birthday, because it was so good she wanted to read it with him!!

Last week, I read aloud to my Second Graders the wonderful book by Roald Dahl, Danny, the Champion of the World. I have always loved this book because it portrays one of the most beautiful father-son relationships in literature. But reading it this year, after a very difficult year in our own son’s life (his name is Danny, too!), had special meaning for me. I understand that single-father and son relationship in the book in ways I never expected, and I appreciate deeply that Roald Dahl created this loving, caring, nurturing, and sparky Dad for us all to love!

When I picked out this book to be the next read aloud in my classroom, it was because I knew it was a wonderful story that would capture my students’ imaginations. I didn’t realize consciously that I was picking out a book that would give me an even deeper love, appreciation for, and understanding of my own newly single-father son and our grandboy, and of their very precious and beautiful relationship.

I’d Rather be Reading

Many things have changed for me in the last two years, but many things remain the same. One of the delightful things that has remained the same is that I am still teaching [second grade], and still enjoying it even though I am getting closer and closer to retirement. And the absolute unchanging thing:  I still love to read aloud books to children.

As I sat in an exhaustingly intense meeting for this entire afternoon, away from my kiddos, I found myself wishing fervently that I could be back in the classroom finishing our current read aloud.  “I’d rather be reading” was never more true!

My students groaned when I told them we’d have to wait until Friday to finish this book. Honestly, they’ve groaned every day when read aloud time ended.  This is dearly loved book in my classroom, so I’ll be posting about it soon!