Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge


Alyson Beecher over at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts a Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge and has a roundup every Wednesday. I love the encouragement to explore more non-fiction. I am thankful that she has this challenge because I know I have read more nonfiction texts as a result.

Women's History Month is just around the corner and here are some of the books I typically highlight in my library. I spent the afternoon pulling some of these amazing books for our display. Are there some picture books that you love to share in March or anytime of the year that feature women? If you want to know more about the titles, visit my women's history shelf at Goodreads. Also, the Amelia Bloomer Project has some amazing titles.




Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Slice of Life - Minneapolis

The Slice of Life Challenge was created by the people over at the blog Two Writing Teachers. The challenge is to write about some part of your day and share it each Tuesday then give feedback to at least three other bloggers.

My exchange student and I packed a lot of stuff into our Sunday. We got up and left the house around 8:00. We made it to St. Paul around 11:00. Our first stop was the Hmong Village Market. I bought an outfit, a bracelet, and a ball (the ones used for ball toss at New Year's). There is always so much to see there. I was disappointed that the bookstore Hmong ABC wasn't open yet. I always stop in there, but I knew we would visit at least one more bookstore that day, so we headed out to our next destination: The Mall of America.


We had a fun time exploring the mall. I had no idea that one time around the mall was a little over half of a mile, but that is what we learned on the Internet. I soon got a text from a loved one asking if I knew that the mall was under a high security alert. Ugh. We stayed anyway. The threat of terrorism hung over my head a bit, but I figured it was probably more likely that we would have a traffic accident on the way home. 



We also went to a waterfall to have a bit of a winter adventure. We had to hop across to get underneath the icicles, but it was cool to hear the water behind the ice. It was gurgling back behind me. There was steam and warm air in that cave. That actually felt wonderful since the high that day was -2 and the wind was blowing.



Our next stop was the Cowles Conservatory in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Due to the frigid temps, we skedaddled into the conservatory and looked at the Spoonbridge and Cherry from the toasty warm entry way. The frost designs on the windows were swirly and amazing. Walking among the plants with the snow and ice outside made me feel like we were getting away with something.

Our final stop was Birchbark Books. The owner, Louise Erdrich, was there to do a reading. They were having an open house so there were refreshments. I bought a nice pile of books and even read a few. After she read a bit, we were running out of steam and needed to head home.

I'm glad we got to experience so many wonderful things together. I was also quite happy to get home  and sink into a chair.

Monday, February 23, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelf. Images via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

The Past Week: 


Due to an amazing weekend, I don't have time to tell about the books I read this past week, but most of them are reviewed on my Goodreads shelf if you want to know more about any of them. My favorites of them all were Hello Ocean, Sweetest Kulu, and Sugar Hill closely followed by Zombie Baseball Beatdown and In My Family

Have a great week filled with wonderful reading!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Celebrate!

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres has a link-up on Saturdays where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every week.

Here are some of my reasons to celebrate.

* My husband and I got to go to a Valentine's Day couples event. We spent time with other couples, talked alone and had a candlelight dinner too. The time together was a special treat.

* I enjoyed my Zumba classes this week. I'm thankful for the fun times with great ladies.

* A few of us were able to explore the construction in our school. Wearing a hard hat made it feel special. We saw some of the new spaces in the addition to the building. Walking around in a partially completed building is certainly a cool opportunity. Do I dare mention the negatives though? The fumes and the noise have been rough this week.

* To keep up our spirits during construction, we are having Fabulous Fridays. Today the fabulousness  was a potato bar at lunch. Having lunch together as a staff is definitely worth a celebration.

* I have students who love reading. Seeing smiles on their faces as they check out books and read will never ever get old.

* We got a book order this week with some awesome books like Sweetest Kulu. Opening the package and pulling them each out was like getting presents.

Fry Bread!!
* I'm on a team from my school that is participating in Culturally Responsive Practices training. Our homework this month was to attend a community event. Last night several of us went to a family fun night at Nį Tanį Hocira (Three Rivers House). The event began with food - and it was delicious. I am a big fan of fry bread. The food was amazing, but the best part was the conversations. I met a language apprentice, much like the one featured in the video below.


The apprentices and their mentors are working to keep the Ho-Chunk language alive. The families at the event were creating family trees using Ho-Chunk words for mother, father, etc.... I was also able to reconnect with some who have been great resources for me in the past. The evening was a lift to my spirit.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Slice of Life

The Slice of Life Challenge was created by the people over at the blog Two Writing Teachers. The challenge is to write about some part of your day and share it each Tuesday then give feedback to at least three other bloggers.

I finally got to attend ALA Midwinter this year. It was a fantastic time of books and connecting with people. For the first time ever, two Rich in Color writers met each other face to face. Karimah was here because she was invited to the Day of Diversity. She wrote about that here.

I was also able to meet up with many #Nerdybookclub friends too. There were chats late into the night with much laughter, but also thoughtful debate. I think more laughter though. Yes, definitely more laughter.


Saturday morning was amazing starting with the 2015 Diverse Debuts panel. The panelists shared window and mirror books from their childhood and then spoke of experiences on their publishing journey. We also heard about some of the initiatives coming from We Need Diverse Books including educational kits. Meeting authors from the panel afterwards was truly a treat.

Debut author Sona Charaipotra
Next, I toured the exhibit hall and found the guy that several of my third grade students told me I had to meet - Tom Angleberger. Of course, I wanted to meet him too. I also got to say hi to Cece Bell since she just happened to be nearby. :)



Next I rushed into the Ignite session just in time to catch Angie Manfredi cruising through a fantastic list of diverse titles in her session "20 Kids/Teens Titles to Diversify Your Collection Today." She offered many titles (you can see them in her slideshow here), but she also encouraged everyone to "Buy the books!" Our money speaks and is one thing that publishers will definitely understand. There were two other sessions that spoke to diversity.



Ivy Noelle presented "Geek Culture and Diversity in Library Spaces." She drew our attention to the idea that comics is an area that is also diverse. She shared The Shadow Hero, Ms. Marvel, and others. 


Edith Campbell finished out the sessions with "The Children are Not All White." She reminded us that there is a disparity between the percentages of children who are not white and representation in children's literature. She also emphasized that books about children of color are for all readers
Following the session, I was able to meet these women who are amazing resources for all people  involved in the work of promoting diverse literature.

Through the afternoon I was able to meet more #Nerdybookclub friends and also snuck in for part of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's lecture before leaving for dinner with friends. They introduced me to Ed Debevic's for a pre-dinner snack. It was truly entertaining as the servers danced on the bar where we sat.


After dinner, I shared a cab to the hotel where I thought I would find the Reforma event Noche de Cuentos happening. Unfortunately, I had read the brochure incorrectly and was still a cab ride away or a very long walk through snow. Fortunately, I found a cab quickly and got to the event before it ended.


When I arrived, Jasmin Cardenas was telling a story about her childhood. It was relaxing and refreshing to sit and hear a story at the end of the day. One of the things she said stuck with me, "We all have stories and if we tell them...this world would be a more peaceful place."


After the stories, I was able to meet Claudia Guadalupe Martinez, the author of Pig Park. I reviewed her book for Rich in Color and also made those yummy pig cookies last fall. I also met Maya Gonzalez and Pat Mora. That made my day. They have both written some wonderful books. It was cool that a few days later it was announced that Pat Mora would be the May Hill Arbuthnot Lecturer for 2016! 


The next morning it was blizzarding, but our train didn't leave right away so we got to go to the exhibit hall one more time before the long and somewhat scary journey home. Overall, the weekend was a success. There were still not nearly enough diverse books out on the exhibit hall floor, but I had wonderful conversations with some of the smaller presses about the great things they are doing. This was my first time so I was just finding my way, but I certainly have a better sense of what I want to do with my time if I go again. Being with so many people who are excited about stories and books made me giddy and I hope I get the chance to do it again.

The work around diversity seemed to have had some ups and downs. Several people wrote more thoroughly about that. Here are a few overviews that were helpful to me particularly in regards to what happened during the Day of Diversity event, but also in general.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelf. Images via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

The Past Week: 


Fish in a Tree calls me to be a better teacher - one who sees my students. The main character, Ally, is unforgettable. Lynda Mullaly Hunt has again written a book that stirs emotions and makes me think. Half a World Away was very unique. I'm not sure I've ever read a book with such a troubled adopted child. He has abandonment issues that are not yet resolved and now his parents are adopting another child - this time an infant. Through his eyes, readers see the turmoil this causes. There is some hope present, but this is not a light-hearted book. Also, some of the situations surrounding the adoption had me wondering if they were realistic.

I reviewed One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul and Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate for the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge. Poet isn't on Goodreads yet since & will be published in the fall.

I shared The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage with my fifth grade classes. They were amazed that such laws existed.

Chasing Freedom: The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony Inspired by Historical Facts was interesting to me, but is definitely for older readers. The two women sit in a room drinking tea and talking about their past exploits so it is not one students would likely read on their own, but could be used by a teacher as a resource.

Hidden Like Anne Frank: 14 True Stories of Survival was not an easy read. What slowly became clear to me was that you had to have money to be hidden. It was wonderful to see how many people were saved, but was also horrifying realizing how many were not.

Strike! The Farm Workers' Fight for Their Rights was a little drier than I had hoped, but was mostly interesting. It got me to thinking about how few children's books exist about migrant families. I did come up with a list though, so I'll have to do a post about that soon.

My favorite of the week was Cuba 15. It's a fun coming-of-age book. There were some serious moments, but it was full of laughter and family love. This one brought a smile to my face many times.

The Coming Week: 
I'm listening to Zombie Baseball Beatdown and so far am loving it. I also started an adult book called The Historian. I think it's a vampire book. A friend told me I had to read it. ;)

I'll also be reading a few more ARCs from ALA Midwinter. I hope you have a great week!

Reading Challenges Update:
Diversity on the Shelf/Diverse Books  24/100
Goodreads  55/520

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Celebrate

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres has a link-up on Saturdays where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every week.



Last weekend, we were able to go showshoeing. We have a park a few blocks from our house with walking trails and we spent some time out in the woods. It was quiet and beautiful. I really enjoyed the time out among the trees.

Our exchange student had a birthday this week. We had a dinner that he requested and an ice cream cake. It was a nice evening.

We hit the 100th day of school. It's always fun to see the first grade students come with their baggies of 100 items. They count them at home and then they count them again at school and there are so many smiles.

Valentine's Day festivities at school were also a lot of fun. There were students buzzing around delivering treats and cards. It's always an exciting time for the students.

Altogether it was a rather mellow week filled with everyday kinds of joys - smiles and hugs from students, joking and laughter with staff and quiet times at home.