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By: Samantha McGinnis,
Blog: First Book
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Inside First Book
, Our Recommendations
, a Toughy Little Buffalo
, Ages and Grades
, All-American Boys
, and Someone Called Plastic
, Barbara O'Connor
, books lists
, Brendan Kiely
, Coretta Scott King Author Honor
, E.B. Lewis
, Emily Jenkins
, Favorite books
, Fran Manushkin
, Happy in Our Skin
, How to Steal a Dog
, Jason Reynolds
, Lauren Tobia
, Mary Ann Rodman
, Monthly book list
, My Best Friend
, Paul O. Zelinksy
, Toys Go Out: Being the Adventures of a Knowledgeable Stingray
, Walter Dean Myers Award
, Add a tag
Our favorite books for April teach some important lessons!
One celebrates the human body and diversity, while others teach kindness and the keys to a true friendship. You’ll find a story that will help foster kids’ sense of empathy and understanding and an award-winning novel that tackles the topics of prejudice and police brutality.
For Pre-K –K (Ages 3-6):
Happy in Our Skin written by Fran Manushkin and illustrated by Lauren Tobia
This affirming and informative book is a charmer and a true celebration – both of diversity and of the human body! Kids will enjoy poring over the diverse faces and hidden details on these pages as they learn about the important role skin plays in their lives.
For 1st and 2nd Grade (Ages 6-8):
My Best Friend written by Mary Ann Rodman and illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Friendships and healthy relationships – those are two key themes of this read-aloud that will have your students’ undivided attention. Honest and relatable, it perfectly illustrates the confusion kids experience when they want to be liked but set their targets on the wrong person. This book will help them understand that a true friend treats others the way we all want to be treated – with kindness.
For 3rd & 4th grade (Ages 8-10):
Toys Go Out: Being the Adventures of a Knowledgeable Stingray, a Toughy Little Buffalo, and Someone Called Plastic written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
Hilarious and heart-warming, this chapter book is a perfect pick for kids wanting a laugh-out-loud funny book to read on their own. It also makes a perfect family read-aloud!
For 5th and 6th Grade (Ages 10-12):
How to Steal a Dog written by by Barbara O’Connor
Empathy, understanding, and a clearer sense of right and wrong – these are just some of the lessons kids will take away from this wonderful, highly accessible book about a well-intentioned girl whose frustrations get the better of her when her family loses their apartment and is forced to live out of their car.
Grades 7 & up (Ages 13+):
All-American Boys written by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely
Teens will be both won over and bowled over by this tremendous novel about prejudice, power, and police brutality. Fantastic fuel for discussion, it’s A 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor book and the recipient of the Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature!
The post Monthly Book List: Our Five Favorite Books for April appeared first on First Book Blog.
I'm so lucky to have readers who write wonderful reviews like this!!!
My favorite parts:
"I'm begging you to read it."
"It's addictive. Pick it up, never put it down."
Thanks so much for this wonderful review!!!
I had a great Skype visit with 4th-grade students at Fort Worth Academy.
This is what greeted me when I first logged on:
They had great questions and one student showed me her amazing artwork:
Their teacher, Ms. Bonin, sent me these cool pictures of her students reading on the playground.
Thank you, Fort Worth Academy!
So, the movie premiere is TONIGHT in South Korea
and I'm still trying to decide what to wear.
And just in case you need to watch the trailer just one more time:
And in case you don't know how excited I am:
I've been cleaning out my office, purging old, useless STUFF.publisher of How to Steal a Dog, outlining the changes they were making when translating the text from English to Italian.Here are some of the more interesting ones:We changed the following Mama's action because in our opinion it's not a good example for young readers:p. 63: "The bread we had in the milk crate in the trunk of the car had turned green with mold and Mama tossed it out the window." We changed to "...Mama threw it in the bin."We think it's better to eliminate all references to religion:p. 138: We eliminated "My other car's a broom. Honk if you love Jesus." [note: That was a bumper sticker.]In our books, we normally try to not refer to smoking and beer. [editorial comment from me: Um, I've BEEN to Italy. No smoking or beer? Maybe I went to the wrong Italy.]p. 31: "The man who had been working on his car was sitting in a lawn chair smoking a cigarette." We changed to "...was sitting in a lawn chair drinking a soda."p. 31: We eliminated the following line: "I didn't look at the man when I passed him, but I caught a whiff of cigarette smoke."p. 45: We eliminated the following line: "Cigarette butts were scattered on the floor beneath it."p. 45: We substituted "beer bottles" with "bottles."We would like to change some words because for us they are too hard:p. 37 and 88: We eliminated the word "idiot."p. 58: We changed "dern world" to "stupid world."p. 119: "Mama would kill us," we changed to "Mama would punish us."p. 138: "I like to died when I saw" was changed to "I like to sink." [editorial comment from me: Huh?]
Every now and then, I come across a long-forgotten nugget.
For instance, yesterday I found a letter I received from the Italian
A few more pics from the filming of How to Steal a Dog in South Korea
|Mookie with director Kim Sung-ho|
|That face!! Love.....|
All students at Oakview Middle School in Lake Orion, Michigan, read How to Steal a Dog.
Media specialist Alicia Pearce sent me these great photos of some of the activities and discussions surrounding the book.
|Bulletin Board Display|
|Ms. McGran's class |
|Students discussing the book|
Thank you, Oakview!!!
I love teachers who do things like this:
Fourth grade teacher, Saul Ruiz, at Carver Academy Elementary in Amarillo, Texas, organized a wonderful project with his students after reading How to Steal a Dog.
"You have inspired us to take our eyes off ourselves and realize that someone else always has it worse than we do," Mr. Ruiz told me.
"We are teaming up with a local homeless shelter for mothers and their children. We are making “After Dinner Bags” for the kids who show up to these shelters. Just like Georgina, they sometimes just arrive with a plastic bag full of only a few of their belongings. We are making bags full of snacks and activities for children to do after dinner…the most boring part of the night for kids at the shelter."
How great is that?!
And I love that they are calling this wonderful activity Project Georgina in honor of the main character.
High five to Mr. Ruiz and his students!!
Check it out, y'all!!!
So excited!(And this is just a "teaser." Full trailer still to come.)
The movie of How to Steal a Dog premiere's in South Korea on December 18.
Here are some photos from the movie:
I get a lot of letters from readers.
I read and love each and every one of them.
And every once in a while, I get a special letter....
...one that reminds me that what I do is important and appreciated and might make a difference to someone.
Recently, I received one of those letters.
With the permission of the sender, I'm printing it here in its entirety.
I love my job.
Dear Barbara O’Connor,
Growing up I noticed that I had trouble reading. I was born dyslexic and so I had trouble understanding how to comprehend the words that I was reading, so not long after the second grade I decided I was not going to read unless I really needed to.
It didn’t take long after I made the decision to not read unless I found a good enough reason that of course I found one. My older brother had a dog named Roscoe. He was my brother’s best friend they did everything together, but one night Roscoe went outside without my brother and he got hit by a car passing down our street very fast. My brother stayed up for days so sad and he refused to go to school. Soon after, my mother asked me if I knew anything that could help him cheer up, and after thinking about it for a while I couldn’t really think of anything until I went on a class trip to the library and my librarian asked me what kind of books I was interested in and I immediately thought of my brother and I told my librarian that I wanted to LOOK at books about dogs so maybe I could show him cool pictures of dogs that looked like Roscoe to cheer him up.
My librarian looked up the key word Dog and the only book that she found in what was supposed to be my reading level was your book How to steal a dog. Without even opening it I came up with the perfect idea to cheer up my brother.
I figured that your book would teach me how to get or steal a dog for my brother so he would not be sad anymore (I want to remind you that I was only nine years old and didn’t fully think through what I was planning on doing.) So I found the perfect reason to read my very first big girl book as I called them (with chapters). I figured that if I skimmed through it I could figure out fairly quickly what I wanted to know.
So I started flipping through the pages and I couldn’t find a list of ways to get a dog, so I figured I would sort of start reading the book to find out where in the book it gave me the steps that I was looking for. Of course I could not find them so then I thought I should just try to actually read it and maybe I could figure out what I wanted to know.
After I started reading the book I became fascinated with Georgina and her family. I guess I could say that I sort of felt connected to Georgina and I became interested in her and her family. So I started reading the book because I was interested in it instead of my original meaning.
After I finished the book I was so proud of myself for actually reading a book that didn’t have just pictures in it. I bragged to my family and friends and even teachers. I was so interested in your book that I wanted to read more of it, I was sad that the book was over and that I would never get to know what had happened to Georgina and her family after the book ended. I tried to Google books that had similarities with your book and I couldn’t find anything that seemed fascinating to me. So I never really read another chapter book again after your book.
I enjoyed your book very much. When I was in my English class at school I was telling a story to my friend about how I would like to become an author when I got older but I thought that I would be a hypocrite if I wrote books but did not read them because of my difficulties with words.
While I was telling my story my instructor, Ms. White overheard me and asked what I was talking about. After I explained everything that I was saying before, I told her that I have only read one real book my whole life and that I loved it. When I told her that the book was How to steal a dog she immediately knew what book I was talking about and remembered that her mentor was your best friend and told me she was going to try to get a hold of her mentor through Facebook and tell her about my story and she was hoping to get in contact with you.
Despite my challenges with reading I am actually very good with writing and grammar. I just have trouble while reading words because the letters mix match and change up and the words seem to look different.
I’m not really sure why I let it defy me so much. I guess it could be because it seems like a good excuse to not try hard enough or to be lazy. I don’t know, but I’m guessing that since I thought of those assumptions that maybe they could be true, maybe.
I am so enthusiastic about writing you this letter. I really hope you find my liking of your book interesting. I hope you can find time to write me back with everything you have going on.
Thank you for your time,
The cast and director of the Korean film, HOW TO STEAL A DOG, being interviewed;
|The cast and director|
The drawing for the audio version of How to Steal a Dog will be held tomorrow at noon.
What have you got to lose?
You might even win!
Okay, so I just did the highly scientific drawing for the audio version of How to Steal a Dog.
I used this cool photo app to take pictures of the highly scientific process.
1. They came out in reverse order and I don't know how to fix it.
2. You can't read the name of the winner.
So here it is again...
KRISTEN!! (A teacher, yay!)
Congratulations to Kristen (I'll be contacting you.)
And thanks so much to everyone who entered. Don't give up. I have other things to give away.
|Go, Dog, go!|
This is the fifth year in a row!
It was runner-up last year.
Dear Barbara O'Connor:
The story you wrote, How to Steal a Dog, is amazing, but a little emotional, at least for my teacher.
Dear Barbara O'Connor:
I liked when Georgina told Toby to shut up. I liked when Carmela cried her lungs out.
I love kids who love to write and earnestly seek advice from authors.
I was at a school recently and did a basic author presentation, followed by a writing workshop.
A 4th grade boy came to the presentation with a spiral notebook to take notes. He was the only one out of 100 students that did so.
When I went to his classroom to do the workshop, he called me over during one of the writing exercises. In his notebook he had written:
The Steps to Writing a Book
Step 1: Idea [Which he added based on the information he had learned from my presentation]
"So, what are the steps to writing a book after the idea?" he asked me.
Ummmm, well, ummm....gee.
"Character," I said. For me, a book starts with character.
He scribbled that down and looked up, eyebrows lifted, waiting for Step 3.
So I gave the old formula of: problem, then obstacle, then solution.
He jotted those down.
And then I remembered setting. Setting is an integral part of the story.
He jotted that down.
But then setting isn't Step 6. Setting belongs up there toward the top.
This was getting all muddied up.
It felt so unsatisfying.
And then I realized that How to Steal a Dog (the book he had read) didn't really fit that classic problem/obstacle/solution formula as clearly as other problem novels.
That boy and I needed to talk, discuss, brainstorm.
But, alas, I had a whole classroom of kids needing my attention. So I left him with his Steps to Writing a Book, wishing I had more time.
BUT, he did give me food for thought. After I left, I thought a lot about The Steps to Writing a Book.
There are times when they are clear: Step 1, Step 2, Step 3.
And times when they aren't.
I hope some day that boy has a chance to figure it out. (And me, too. Ha!)
I love getting notes from teachers like this one:
Ms. O'Connor, I'm a 3rd grade teacher at __ School in Irving, Texas. This past Thursday I finished reading How to Steal a Dog to my class. I loved it and have been inspired to make a list of my own…
“How to Know Your Students Love a Book You’ve Read to Them”
1. When they check it out of the library to read it again.
2. When they beg you to keep reading at the end of each chapter.
3. When they keep making connections to it throughout the year. (“Mrs. E, I saw a homeless man and I thought of Mookie!”…)
4. When you hear students call out, “Yes! How to Steal a Dog!” when they see you pick it up.
5. When you look in their faces and can see their emotions as you read it aloud.
6. When you hear their laughter at the funny parts.
7. When you all feel just a little sad when you read the last words aloud because you didn’t want it to end.
Thank you for a wonderful book!!
Filming is beginning on the Korean movie of How to Steal a Dog.
Release date is December.
I love Skype days.
|With students at Gwin Oaks Elementary in Gwinnett, GA|
|More Gwin Oaks students. Thank you, Ms. Amolo!|
|A teacher at Fort Worth Academy showed me her dog, Plato, posing like the cover of How to Steal a Dog. Go, Plato!|
Some photos from the filming of How to Steal a Dog in South Korea:
Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
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I love seeing these photos of shooting the movie version of How to Steal a Dog in South Korea.