Brownie and Pearl Take a Dip is the fourth in Cynthia Rylant’s series for early readers. In this third book, Brownie (an adorable little girl about the same age as primary kids) and Pearl (her brown and orange pet cat) prepare for a swim in the small blue pool. Brownie gets her suit, Pearl gets her beach ball and they both put on their sunglasses. Brownie takes a dip and so does Pearl but she doesn’t last long.
These two characters are perfect for first graders. Last year I noticed a number of girls wanting to hold on to this series in their book bins. The text on each page is short and a bit repetitive. This book and many others in the series like: Brownie and Pearl Step Out and Brownie and Pearl Get Dolled Up, Brownie and Pearl See the Sights make up one of my newer baskets of series picture books in the classroom library. And coming in Sept: Brownie and Pearl Hit the Hay.
I love this book because it has so much versatility. It could be a color book, a label book (that tells a story), or even a book about finding a friend. It is one of those books to read at the beginning of the year because everyone could read it after read aloud. It is also a book you could easily pull out and study pattern and repetition in as writers. And, I would pull this out later in the year to discuss what the book is really about. Emily Gravett is a genius.
I am always on the lookout for strong non-fiction titles for primary readers. I often am looking at the pictures/photographs, the amount of text, the organization of the book when deciding on whether it would be a beneficial primary read. This book of animals organized by their colors according to the rainbow. It has crisp colorful photographs with just the right amount of text for emergent and transitional readers. I love it!
The notion of bravery in first grade drives much of what we do throughout the year and especially in the in first month of school. So, I am looking for “superhero” stories everywhere I go. (I happen to find this book while surfing the shelves at half price books.) In their superhero adventures, Max and Pinky transform into superheroes after trying many superhero outfits. Mighty Max and his stubby sidekick (Pinky is so confused about what a stubby sidekick is) save whales, battle snow monsters until, yep, Pinky is upset with his title and quits. Will their superhero friendship survive? This book of course embraces kids being able to do anything but also made me think about how often upset feelings happen in the classroom. Pinky and Max can help model how friendships do overcome.
There are so many things in the world,
So many important things
To be taught
To be shown.
But the best things,
The most important ones of all
Are the ones no one can teach you
Or show you
No one can discover them
The book places you (the reader) in many places and moments where noticing and wondering are of the essence: dangling your toes into a pond, blowing the seeds of a dandelion, and embracing the softness of a puppy. I love how it enables you to feel truly in charge of your learning when so much of student learning is often controlled by what we as teachers do or have to do in the classroom.
One of the first studies we think about as readers and writers in the classroom is a study about pictures. It is crucial that young readers and writers really take time to think about how pictures help us understand a story and about how we as writers create pictures can help the reader understand our thinking. I have used titles like The Zoo by Suzy Lee and How to Heal a Broken Wing to help us study pictures.
A Ball of For Daisy by Chris Raschka is a wordless picture book that I enjoyed reading this summer. It is about a dog and her ball. It has lots of opportunities for predicting and thinking solely using the pictures. Chris also uses multiple frames on a page to show the passing of time thus allowing us to help kids think about how they could do the same.
My students love I Spy books. They also love the Spot 7 series books. I think it is because of the simplicity in these finding books. We as teachers feel guilty when kids want to sit with these for hours but really we have to make sure they get time to do just that: sit and be with a book they enjoy. We can balance with our objectives and curriculum and expectations but I also think they should sit and be with books they love, even books that they may not be reading continuous text. We want them to think and enjoy reading. This book: I Spy with My Little Eye is a perfect primary think and read. It is repetitive and very predictable: both great things for our early readers and even the readers we think should be doing more. I think it will make all kids happy.
Sparkle and Spin : A Book About Words by Ann and Paul Rand
Ok, this book was a book given to me in my district’s word study curriculum. It is very old but so great for introducing kids to thinking about the power of words and what they are. I am thinking it would be a great read before asking kids to think about their favorite word. A great way to start the year with thinking about the importance of words in many contexts.
Last fall I heard Ann Marie Corgill share this title during our NCTE presentation and I am just getting to purchasing it. It is the story (based on a South American tale) of a little humming bird bravely carrying water droplets attempting to douse a forest fire while her animal friends run from the raging fire. It sends the message to all kids that there is strength and dignity in bravely standing up for what you know is right.
Lastly, I read Fish Wish this summer and realized it might have some possibilities in our study of patterned text during writing workshop. As writers, we look hard at pattern books for ideas, structure, endings, beginnings and craft. I am thinking kids might love to begin their pattern books like Barner, “ If I were a ________.” And then imagine and share why. This book has a structure that kids can emulate in their own writing.