Monday, June 12, 2017

Just One More Day!

Tomorrow is the official release date for Can an Aardvark Bark?, a book I’m super excited about because it’s illustrated by uber-talented Caldecott Honoree Steve Jenkins.

Today seems like the perfect time to take one more look at the book trailer.

I can’t thank Mrs. Keith, the school librarian at Marguerite E. Small School in West Yarmouth, MA, and all the third graders in Mrs. Zabielski’s class enough for their help in creating this fun video.

Here's a great picture of the students just after I gave them all their own autographed copies of the book. Ahead of the publication date. Shh! 

Friday, June 9, 2017

In the Classroom: 12 Techniques for Writing Nonfiction

Recently, I came across this terrific visual aid created by the clever folks at the Teachers College Reading Writing Workshop (@TCRWP). I think your students will find it helpful.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Behind the Books: A First Draft Isn’t a Mistake

When I present the school visit program, Creating Nonfiction: Researching, Writing, and Revising, I show the image above and ask students what all those red marks are on my rough draft. Of course, the answers I’m looking for are “edits” and “revisions,” but sometimes students say “mistakes” or “things that need to be fixed.” And this really bugs me.

What I tell them is that writing isn’t like math. In math, if I said 2 + 2 = 5, then I’m wrong and I need to fix the mistake. But in writing, there is no right or wrong, and a rough draft is an important first step.
Revision is about improvement. It’s about taking something that’s okay and making it extraordinary. A first draft is important because you can’t improve something that doesn’t exist

And then I tell them that, for me, revising a manuscript is like renovating a home. This is a comparison they really seem to get.

Monday, June 5, 2017

60 STEM Summer Reads to Encourage Outdoor Exploration

It’s not quite summer vacation here in Massachusetts, but I know that many kids across the country are already done with school for the year. Here are some great books that they might enjoy reading over the next couple of months.

A Beetle Is Shy by Dianna Hutts Aston

Bird Talk by Lita Judge

Beneath the Sun by Melisa Stewart

A Butterfly Is Patient by Dianna Hutts Aston

Coyote Moon by Maria Gianferrari

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

Daylight Starlight Wildlife by Wendell Minor

Feathers and Hair: What Animals Wear by Jennifer Ward

Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move by JoAnn Early Macken

Frog Song by Brenda Z. Guiberson

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin

A Grand Old Tree by Mary Newell DePalma

The Hidden Life of a Toad by Doug Wechsler

If You Find a Rock by Peggy Christian

If You Were the Moon by Laura Purdie Salas

I Took a Walk by Henry Cole

Just Ducks by Nicola Davies

Just One Bite by Lola M. Schaefer

A Leaf Can Be by Laura Purdie Salas

Look Up! Bird-watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette L. Cate

Mama Built a Nest by Jennifer Ward

Monarch and Milkweed by Helen Frost

My First Day by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

My Light by Molly Bang

Mysterious Patterns by Sarah C. Campbell

No Two Alike by Keith Baker

An Oak Tree Grows by Brian Karas

On Meadowview Street by Henry Cole

Outside Your Window by Nicola Davies

Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner

Pedal Power by Allan Drummond

Planting the Wild Garden by Kathryn O. Gailbraith

The Promise by Nicola Davies

The Raft by Jim LaMarche

Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre

A Rock Can Be by Laura Purdie Salas

A Rock Is a Lively by Dianna Hutts Aston

Round by Joyce Sidman

Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran 

The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer

A Seed Is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston

Shell, Beak, Tusk by Bridget Heos
The Snail Spell by Joanne Ryder

Secrets of the Garden by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

Song of the Waterboatman by Joyce Sidman

Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep by April Pulley Sayre

Step Gently Out by Helen Frost

Sweep Up the Sun by Helen Frost

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman

Sun Dance, Water Dance by Jonathan London

Trout Are Made of Trees by April Pulley Sayre

Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre

Water Can Be by Laura Purdie Salas

Weeds Find a Way by Cindy Jenson-Elliott

When Rain Falls by Melissa Stewart

Where in the Wild by David Schwartz

Where Once There Was a Wood by Denise Fleming

Who Was Here? Discovering Wild Animal Tracks by Mia Posada

Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator by Sarah Campbell

You Nest Here with Me by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple

Friday, June 2, 2017

In the Classroom: Writing Informational Leads

I’m always excited to share great ideas for teaching nonfiction writing, especially when they involve using one of my books as a mentor text. J

Recently, California kindergarten teacher Jamie Lanham (@MrsJacksonSDGVA) posted this fantastic anchor chart on Twitter. It focuses on how nonfiction writers can “hook their readers” with a fun, informative beginning.

I recognized her example right away. Those are the opening lines of my book Snakes.

And look at what her students produced after discussing the opening. Fantastic! Can you guess the answers to their riddles?