Friday Book Favorites: Unlikely Friendships

Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox

1Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge is a young boy who lives next door to a nursing home. He is friends with all of the people who live there and visits them often. His favorite person is Miss Nancy and when she loses her memory, Wilfred Gordon goes on a search to find her memories. A quest to help his beloved friend turns into an inquiry into the definition of a memory. Wilfred Gordon learns the power of memories, and even more so, the power of being a true friend.

Flora and The Flamingo by Molly Idle2

This wordless picture book won the Caldecott Honor and is the first in a series, which includes Flora and The Penguin and will soon include Flora and the Peacock. Humor and heart fill the pages of this book as these unlikely friends join together to perform a dance of friendship. Idle’s use of flaps and foldout pages allows the reader to interact with the story on another level, bringing the dance to life.

City Dog Country Frog by Mo Willems

3While Mo Willems is typically known for his laugh out loud humor, his book, City Dog Country Frog, takes a more serious approach to meaningful friendships. He tells the story of a city dog who visits the country and befriends a solitary frog. The wonderful combination of Willems’ brief but carefully chosen prose and Jon Muth’s expressive watercolors will tug at the heartstrings of young readers – and older ones, too!

Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff4

The 2004 Tsunami left baby hippo, Owen, stranded and orphaned in Kenya. During his rescue and recovery, he developed an unlikely and amazing friendship with a 130-year old tortoise named Mzee. Owen and Mzee catalogs the true story of an inspiring relationship that blossomed despite tremendous differences and overwhelming obstacles.


Friday Favorites: It’s Graduation Time!

Picture Books For Milestone Moments

yay you

Yay, You! Moving Out, Moving Up, Moving On by Sandra Boynton

walk onWalk On! A Guide For Babies of All Ages by Marla Frazee


If I Never Forever Endeavor by Holly Meade


The Three Questions by John J. Muth


Stars by Mary Lyn Ray

north star

The North Star by Peter Reynolds


The Wonderful Happens by Cynthia Rylant

suessOh the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss

courageCourage by Bernard Waber

ideWhat Do You Do With An Idea? by Kobi Yamada

Nonfiction Worth Noticing

A Nest is Noisy by Diana Hutts Aston1

The newest addition to Aston’s incredible series (including An Egg is Quiet, A Seed is Sleepy, and A Rock is Lively) teaches about nests – not just bird nests,  but alligator nests, orangutan nests, bee nests, and so many more. Her poetic writing style combined with the well-researched information woven into the text and illustrations provide readers with an enjoyable, eye-opening reading learning experience.

The Girl From the Tar Paper School
by Teri Kanefield

Barbara Johns, the true instigator of the Civil Rights Movement, stood up for what 2she believed in, seeking a better learning environment for herself and her classmates. This book tells the story of how she led the first peaceful protest and stood her ground taking her case all the way to the Supreme Court. A powerful narrative combined with photographs, documents, advertisements, and quotes provides readers with a less-familiar lens to view this crucial time in our  nation’s history.

The Scraps Book by Lois Ehlert3

In The Scraps Book, Caldecott honoree, Lois Ehlert, inspires young readers and
writers as she takes them on a journey through her life as an artist and her book-making process. Her rich illustrations full of unique collage art encourage her audience to follow their dreams and explore their inner creativity.

Egg: Nature’s Perfect Package
by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

4Dynamic husband and wife duo, Steve Jenkins and Robin Page, do not disappoint with their latest nonfiction picture book, Egg: Nature’s Perfect Package. Young readers will enter the animal kingdom and learn about the fight for survival, beginning with the egg. Engaging animal facts paired with Jenkins and Page’s signature, eye-popping collage art will have your primary students itching to learn more!

Friday Book Favorites – Poems as Books

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me by Maya Angelou


Maya Angelou wasn’t afraid of things that life put in front of her. Paired with Jean-Michel Basquait’s unique, bold illustrations, in this poem fear is defeated by courage and confidence.

All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon


A Caldecott Honor winner, this lyrical, rhyming poem conveys the wonders of our world. From sunny beach days to rainy nights by a fire, moments of joy, compassion, and love are shared among family and friends. Marla Frazee’s illustrations invite you to pore over each page and discover details that illuminate the meaning of the poem. “Hope and peace and love and trust; All the world is all of us.”

Bad Bye, Good Bye by Deborah Underwood


A rhythmic poem depicting a child’s perspective on his family’s move from a beloved home. Moving day is filled with big, complicated emotions, but comfort is found when the move is finally over and new friendships and adventures are discovered.

Friday Book Favorites – It’s Poetry Month!

hotdogDear Hot Dog by Mordicai Gerstein

This laugh-out-loud collection appeals to young readers as it celebrates the everyday artifacts of our lives. Poems about toothbrushes, pants, and spaghetti are only a few highlights, as the non-rhyming anthology follows a day in the life of three children. The vibrant illustrations and humorous subject  matter will have readers itching to hear more!


National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry edited by J. Patrick Lewis

An incredible collection of old and new favorites that will pique the animal lover’s interest. Organized by animals’ distinguishing qualities, children can enjoy poems of all kinds and lengths as well as captivating photographs.


BookSpeak! Poems About Books by Laura Purdie Salas

A colorful variety of poems all about books! Fun, serious, and thought-provoking poems paired with unique paper cutout and collage illustrations.


Firefly July selected by Paul B. Janeczo

This collection of 36 very short poems takes readers on a beautiful journey through the four seasons. Melissa Sweet’s stunning illustrations paired with the timeless works of world-renowned poets is not something you want to miss!

Friday Book Favorites – Professional Texts

Guest post by Hannah — thank you!


“You may not always realize that you are doing these things, but that is just the point – we already know how to study what we love closely, it is a process, a method of falling in love.” (p. 8)

In Falling in Love with Close Reading, Lehman and Roberts describe a simple process and method to teach close reading to upper-elementary, middle school and high school students. They do so by inspiring the reader to study texts deeply, as if they were the people and places they love the most. For a teacher like me, with a limited background in English Literature, the book provides an extremely helpful review of the literary elements and structures that we need to teach our students.

Lehman and Roberts suggest following a ‘ritual’ when close reading texts.

  • Read through lenses (ex: relationships, setting descriptions or time period)
  • Use lenses to find patterns
  • Use patterns to develop a new understanding of the text

Throughout the book, the authors return to this ritual each time they embark on close reading, regardless of the focus of the reading. This ritual is very user-friendly for both teachers and students because it outlines a path of specific and consistent steps to follow.

Along with providing a general framework for close reading instruction, the authors provide lesson plans and practical tips to use with students. For example, they offer ideas for tangible scaffolds such as sentence stems and anchor charts to help students with abstract concepts. The authors also make suggestions for ways to increase student engagement such as by incorporating pop culture, students’ interests and video clips into close reading instruction. Connections to the Common Core State Standards are present throughout the text and are very helpful. This is an exceptionally practical and clearly written text. It’s a must for all upper-elementary, middle school and high school ELA teachers.