Review Policy

Monday, June 5, 2017

Book Review: Jabari Jumps

Author/Illustrator: Gaia Cornwell
Interest Level: Ages 4-8

From the Book Jacket: Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He's finished his swimming lessons. He's passed his swim test. It's just...maybe he should do some stretches first. "Looks easy," says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. Gaia Cornwell makes her picture-book debut in a story about what it takes to work up the courage to make a big important leap. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: Such a great story about how we can turn our self-doubt into courage to overcome something that may seem scary or too hard of a task. Jabari goes through that thought process and with the help of his dad he is able to take the big jump.His dad teaches him to take a deep breath and change his self-talk into something positive. 
I will definitely be using this in my kindergarten and first grade growth mindset lessons next year. Another winner!

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Book Review: What a Beautiful Morning

Author: Arthur A. Levine
Illustrator: Katie Kath
Interest Level: Ages 5 and Up

From the Book Jacket: Every morning is beautiful when Noah visits his Grandparents. Grandpa and Noah take off singing and hardly stop: walking the dog, splashing through puddles, eating French toast with cinnamon. 

But one summer Grandpa seems to have forgotten how to do the things they love. Does he even know who Noah is? Grandma steps in energetically, filling in as best she can. But it is Noah who finds the way back to something he can share with Grandpa. Something musical. Something that makes the morning beautiful again. This is a story about how love helps us find even what we think is lost. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This is a really helpful story to help support children who are experiencing their grandparent going through changes. The gradual memory loss of Noah's grandparent has an impact on their relationship and it takes an emotional toll on him. What I really loved about this book is instead of everything becoming so sad, the child develops a new perspective on focusing on the positive things that are happening in the present. This models a healthy approach to dealing with something that otherwise might be scary and confusing. This one is a winner!

A Link to This Book: 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Book Review: This is My Dollhouse

Author/Illustrator: Giselle Potter
Interest Level: Ages 4-8

From the Book Jacket: I made my dollhouse out of a cardboard box. It has an elevator that goes up and down, a rooftop swimming pool, and a very special family that lives in it. My friend Sophie has a dollhouse too. It's perfect. The dolls all look the same, and everything matches. What will Sophie say when she sees mine?

Why It's On My Bookshelf: My daughter and I recently discovered this book and I thought it was going to be a story about a girl who creates a dollhouse using a cardboard box. But it is much more than that. When the two girls have a play date a tense moment happens between them where one of them tries to control everything. She shuts the other friend down and won't listen to any of her ideas. This was such a great teachable moment. We had a good discussion about remembering to be a flexible friend and not shut down others ideas just because you might not want to play that way. The story ends with the girls having another play date and they are open to each others ideas and cooperate together. 

A Link to This Book:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Book Reviews: Rulers of the Playground

Author/Illustrator: Joseph Kuefler
Interest Level: Ages 4-8

From the Book Jacket: One morning, Jonah decided to become ruler of the playground. Everyone pinkie promised to obey King Jonah's rules...Everyone except for Lennox, because she wanted to rule the playground too...

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This book tackles a lot of the issues we've been dealing with on our playground lately. There seems to be a few students who have been using bossy behaviors as a way to be in charge of other friends or dictate what games will be played. So I appreciated seeing this new book as it will go a long way in helping children remember to be flexible friends. Jonah and Lennox both try and "rule" the playground but the ending result is they are left with no friends. They realize that being bossy and demanding with others is actually very exhausting so they come up with an apology plan to make things right. I'm so delighted to have this new one on my bookshelf. It's going to definitely help make a positive behavior impact. 

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Book Review: We're All Wonders

Author/Illustrator: RJ Palacio
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

From the Book Jacket: Auggie knows he's not an ordinary kid. He does plenty of ordinary things. He feels ordinary. He just doesn't look ordinary. Growing up as an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face isn't easy, but Auggie is a wonder. He and his trusty sidekick, Daisy, play ball, eat ice cream, and use their imaginations to soar through their days together. They know it's not just Auggie who's different. Everyone is different, and everyone is a wonder - if only they could see it. 

Featuring the beloved hero from the worldwide bestselling sensation Wonder, this original adventure written and illustrated by RJ Palacio taps into every child's longing to be seen for who they truly are. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I am a huge fan of the book Wonder so I was of course beyond excited to see the picture book version of it. You are going to love it! This will be a great addition to my bullying curriculum. I can easily use this across all grades. I like the message that there is room on Earth for all of us - even with our differences. Kindness and acceptance is what helps us move past exclusion and judgment. So happy about this AMAZING find. Choose Kind. 

A Link to This Book:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Book Review: The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read

Author: Curtis Manley
Illustrator: Kate Berube
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

From the Book Jacket: Nick has two cats, Verne and Stevenson. They do everything together - except read. So Nick has an idea: he will teach them to read too! But reading can be hard and takes lots of practice. Can his cats learn how? In this celebration of reading, Nick and his cats discover that finding just the right book can make all the difference. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This is an adorable story about changing one's attitude from resistance to persistence. One cat jumps right into learning to read but the other wants nothing to do with it. He won't even give it a try. I feel like this mirrors life so well - especially when our children are learning new academic tasks. It feels hard and the temptation to give up is an easy choice. I also loved the message of finding books that interest reluctant readers. For Stevenson it was Pirates! If you are wanting to help your students tap into their growth mindset, add this one to your bookshelf. It's a must. 

A Link to This Book:

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Book Review: My Friend Maggie

Author/Illustrator: Hannah E Harrison
Interest Level: Ages 5 and Up

About This Book: A sweet and heart-tugging story about bullying, friendship, and fitting in. Paula and Maggie have been friends forever. Paula thinks Maggie is the best—until mean girl Veronica says otherwise. Suddenly, Paula starts to notice that Maggie is big and clumsy, and her clothes are sort of snuggish. Rather than sticking up for Maggie, Paula ignores her old friend and plays with Veronica instead. Luckily, when Veronica turns on Paula, Maggie’s true colors shine through. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This is a powerful story about exclusion and how harmful it can feel. As a school counselor I have witnessed these types of power plays among students. It is very hurtful when a student tells another student not to play with a certain person. Veronica puts down Maggie by body shaming and saying that she is too big. It's a putdown I have heard other students use. I have not used a story like this before so it was a good discussion when we read it. This book fits perfectly into my curriculum around including others and accepting differences. I also like how the victim in the story ends up being the upstander. 

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Book Review: Life Without Nico

Author: Andrea Maturana
Illustrator: Francisco Javier Olea

From the Book Jacket: Best friends Maia and Nico are inseparable. So when Nico's family must move away for a while, life without him leaves a big hole in Maia's world. 

But little by little, Maia's sadness eases, thanks to a kitten, a new friend and the magic of music. When it's finally time for Nico to return home, Maia worries. Can she find room in her life for him again?This is an endearing story of friendship and the infinite capacity of the heart. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I've had a few students have to deal with a friend moving away and really feeling devastated by the loss. This is a sweet story that validates these circumstances and feelings. It also shows you can fill the void in your heart by making a new friend and finding hobbies. I don't have too many books on this subject so glad I found it. This will also be a great resource to teach The Zones of Regulation. Great find!

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Useful:

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Book Review: Melena's Jubilee: The Story of a Fresh Start

Author: Zetta Elliott
Illustrator: Aaron Boyd

About This Book: After being sent to bed early the previous night, Melena wakes up to a new day with a song in her heart. At breakfast she learns she has been given a “fresh start,” and she decides to celebrate by doing things differently for the rest of the day. Melena chooses not to fight with her brother, and shares the money she has rather than demanding to be repaid by a less fortunate friend. This story introduces children to the concept of jubilee, which stresses the important principles of generosity, and forgiveness.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: What a WONDERFUL book! I am so excited to share it with my students and my own children. We all make mistakes. But how we recover and move forward is what matters most. Lets start modeling to our kids we can do that without being so hard on ourselves. I have always loved the message that tomorrow is always a new day and it brings with it renewal. Melena's Jubilee models this concept so well and it can truly be life changing for kids. Mistakes are not the end of the world - they are a catalyst for positive change. 

A Link to This Book:

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Book Review: Kindness is Cooler, Mrs Ruler

Author: Margery Cuyler
Illustrator: Sachiko Yoshikawa
Interest Level: Ages 5-8

From the Book Jacket: When Mrs. Ruler asks five of her kindergarteners to miss recess, she's got a special plan up her sleeve. She's about to teach a new golden rule: Kindness Is Cool! Soon the entire class is doing so many good deeds that their kindness bulletin board barely fits their classroom!

By clearing the table after dinner to helping the elderly, one kindergarten class is proving that kids really can make a difference. Count along with Mrs. Ruler's class. Can all their good deeds really add up to 100 acts of kindness?

Why It's On My Bookshelf: Love this book so much! It starts out with a teacher being frustrated with her students being unkind to one another and her way of dealing with them is by teaching them about acts of kindness. She asks each student to go home and do five acts of kindness for their families. Then in show-and-tell they will share what they did. Their experiences inspire the rest of the class to also try acts of kindness. Soon it becomes a class project. 

I feel this should be a staple in a classroom teacher's library when it comes to building community and managing behaviors. As a school counselor this is a wonderful addition to my bucket filling books and working on school kindness projects. I'm also excited to read this to my daughter because she would love to learn about acts of kindness and this is such a perfect resource. 

A Link to This Book: