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Tag Archives | The One and Only Ivan

Bookstorm™: Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall

Untamed Bookstorm

Untamed: the Wild Life of Jane GoodallThis month, we are pleased to feature Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall, written by Anita Silvey, with photographs and book designed by the incredible team at National Geographic. This book is not only fascinating to read, it’s a beautiful reading experience as well.

It’s not often that a book offers us a glimpse into the childhood of a woman who has followed a brave, and caring, career path, but also follows her through more than 50 years in that chosen profession, describing her work, discoveries, and her passion for the mammals with whom she works. I learned so much I didn’t know about Dr. Goodall and her chimpanzees, Africa, field work, and how one moves people to support one’s cause.

In each Bookstorm™, we offer a bibliography of books that have close ties to the the featured book. For Untamed, you’ll find books for a variety of tastes and interests. The book will be comfortably read by ages 9 through adult. We’ve included fiction and nonfiction, picture books, middle grade books, and books adults will find interesting. A number of the books are by Dr. Jane Goodall herself—she’s a prolific writer. We’ve also included books about teaching science, as well as videos, and articles accessible on the internet.

Jane Goodall and Her Research. From Me … Jane, the picture by Patrick McDonnell about Jane Goodall’s childhood, to Jane Goodall: the Woman Who Redefined Man by Dale Peterson, there are a number of accessible books for every type of reader.

Primate Research. We’ve included nonfiction books such as Pamela S. Turner’s Gorilla Doctors and Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wick’s Primates, a graphic novel about the three women who devoted so much of their loves to studying primates: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas.

Chimpanzees. Dr. Goodall’s research is specifically about chimpanzees so companion books such as Michele Colon’s Termites on a Stick and Dr. Goodall’s Chimpanzees I Love: Saving Their World and Ours are suggested.

Fiction. Many excellent novels have been written about primates and Africa and conservation, ranging from realism to science fiction and a novel based on a true story. Among our list, you’ll find Linda Sue Park’s A Long to Water and Eva by Peter Dickinson and The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.

World-Changing Women and Women Scientists. Here you’ll find picture book biographies, longer nonfiction books, and collections of short biographies such as Girls Think of Everything by Catherine Thimmesh, Silk & Venom by Kathryn Lasky, and Rad American Women: A to Z by Kate Schatz.

Africa. The titles about, or set on, this continent are numerous. Learning About Africa by Robin Koontz provides a useful and current introduction to the continent. We also looked for books by authors who were born in or lived for a while in an African country; Next Stop—Zanzibar! by Niki Daly and Magic Gourd by Coretta Scott King Honoree Baba Wague Diakiteare are included in this section.

Animal Friendships. Children and adults alike crave these stories about unlikely friendships between animals who don’t normally hang around together. From Catherine Thimmesh’s Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships to Marion Dane Bauer’s A Mama for Owen, you’ll be charmed by these books.

Animals In Danger of Extinction. We’ve included only two books in this category but both of them should be stars in your booktalks. Counting Lions by Katie Cotton, illustrated by Stephen Walton, is a stunning book—do find it! Dr. Goodall contributes a moving book, Hope for Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species Are Being Rescued from the Brink.

Teaching Science. If you’re working with young children in grades K through 2, you’ll want Perfect Pairs by Melissa Stewart and Nancy Chesley. For older students in grades 3 through 6, Picture-Perfect Science Lessons will inspire you.

Let us know how you are making use of this Bookstorm™. Share your ideas and any other books you’d add to this Bookstorm™.



Middle Kingdom: Suzhou, China

The books that most delight middle school and junior high readers often straddle a “Middle Kingdom” ranging from upper middle grade to YA. Each month, Bookology columnist Lisa Bullard will visit the Middle Kingdom by viewing it through the eyes of a teacher or librarian. Bookology is delighted to celebrate the work of these educators who have built vital book encampments in the transitional territory of early adolescence.

This month’s journey takes us to Dulwich College Suzhou in Suzhou, China, where Lisa talks with Head of Libraries and Senior School Librarian Leigh Collazo.


Dulwich College Suzhou

Lisa: Right off the bat, I’ll clarify for our readers that in this case, “college” means something other than how we use the term in the United States. Dulwich College Suzhou includes students ages 2-19. Leigh, what are three to five additional things our blog readers should know about your community, school, or library/media center?

Leigh: Dulwich College London was the first in our franchise, established in 1619. It has since expanded into Dulwich College International, which currently operates five additional schools and two international high schools in Asia.

Dulwich College Suzhou students and faculty represent over 40 nationalities all over the world. Our largest groups come from UK, Korea, and the United States. Our students are ages 2-19, separated into three schools: DUCKS (PreK-1st grade), Junior School (grades 2-5), and Senior School (grades 6-12). We have about 900 total students across the three schools. Though we do have very nice boarding facilities available, the vast majority of our students live off-campus with their families.


Lingering Garden, Suzhou

Suzhou is a beautiful Chinese city! We are located about 50 miles from Shanghai, which is easy to access via a 25-minute bullet train ride. Often called the “Venice of China,” Suzhou is most famous for its UNESCO World Heritage gardens, water towns, Buddhist temples, pagodas, and network of canals running through the city. All over the city, we see beautiful willow trees, colorful flowers, and lots of sculptures. There is a large recreational lake with a boardwalk within a five-minute walk from my front door. The weather here is very like that of northern Florida: hot and humid in the summer, cool (but still humid) in the winter. We get lots of rain, but it is rarely cold enough to snow. There are many expats from all over the world in Suzhou; I’ve heard the figures are as high as 10% foreigners in this area, mostly from Europe, Australia, and the USA.

We have two libraries at Dulwich College, located in the Junior School and Senior School. We have full-time library employees: two librarians (fully-certified with MLS degrees), one library intern (who will receive her MLS this December), and two library assistants. Together, our libraries boast a growing collection of 38,000 books and international newspapers and magazines. Our libraries are open from 7:50 am-4:30 pm daily. Both libraries have computers and iPads for students to use in the library. Both libraries have wireless Internet, and Senior School students are also able to connect to the school’s VPN. We subscribe to many of the same databases I used in my Texas library—Encyclopedia Britannica, PebbleGo, JSTOR, Tumblebooks, BrainPop, and Facts on File.


I think many people would be surprised to hear that I have had few difficulties with Chinese government censorship when purchasing library books. When we order (from the USA and UK), Customs does inspect our purchases, but I have not had any books rejected. I am able to purchase the same books here that I was able to purchase in the USA, plus I can purchase books from Australia, UK, and Canada, too!

Lisa: What recent changes or new elements are affecting the work you do with middle school students?

Leigh: Last year was my first year at my school, and we spent a large part of the year genrefying the 15,000 fiction titles in our library. It’s been a huge hit with students and faculty, and our overall circulation last year increased 89% over the previous school year.

This year, I am thrilled to tell you that we are adding Overdrive e-books for all our Senior School students, which I expect to launch by the end of September. My library assistant has been working on genrefying our 2,100-title Mandarin section, something our students requested last year. We plan to genrefy our Korean section this year as well, which is about 1,200 titles.

In November, we are bringing illustrator Matthew Holm (Babymouse series, Squish series) to Suzhou to speak to our students. We also have slam poet Nick Toczek visiting in November. All of our middle school students will get the chance to hear them speak.

ph_Panda Older ReadersLast, we are participating in Battle of the Books for the first time this year. We are using books on the Panda Older Readers Book List, plus seven more titles selected by participating librarians in the Shanghai area. In March 2016, our students will compete against other international schools from all over Shanghai, Wuxi, Suzhou, and Kunshan. They will also get to meet Newbery Award winning author Kwame Alexander at the competition.

Lisa: What five books (or series) are checked out most often by your middle school students?


  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
  • The Selection by Kiera Cass
  • Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renée Russell
  • Half Bad by Sally Green
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Lisa: What books do you personally love to place into middle school students’ hands?


  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman
  • Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
  • Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen
  • The Seer and the Sword by Victoria Hanley

Lisa: If you had a new staffer starting tomorrow, what piece of advice would you be sure to give them? 


  1. Read the books! You can’t recommend them if you don’t read them.
  2. Be the weirdo. Be the crazy one who plays the spoons or breakdances or decorates the library with cat posters. Don’t be afraid to be yourself or be different from the other teachers. You are not them. You are you!

Lisa: What do you like most about working with middle-schoolers?

Leigh: I love their energy and their quirkiness. They are old enough to do many things for themselves, but they are still young enough to need guidance from trusted adults. I can joke around with middle school students, and they (usually!) get the jokes. Middle schoolers can be challenging sometimes, but every day, they make me laugh, give me hope, and even help me see things in a different way. Who else can say that about their job?


Lisa: Could you share some information about your most popular/successful/innovative program for promoting books and reading to middle schoolers?

Leigh: I am a huge proponent of genrefication of fiction sections. Genrefication better reflects the way students browse the library. Front-facing library books (where the entire front cover is visible) also really helps students select books, as does multiple themed book displays. My favorite and most successful book promotion tool is reading and booktalking a LOT of titles. I booktalk all day long!

Lisa: How have books or other things changed for middle kingdom readers during your time as a librarian?

Leigh: I started working as a librarian in 2004. Since then, I’ve seen a huge increase in the number and acceptance of graphic novels. I’ve separated my graphic novels into their own section (rather than 741.5) since 2011. They were taking over the 700 section! That said, I think graphic novels still have a long way to go before many people consider them “real reading.”


Creating a Classroom Community with 31 Letters

by Maurna Rome

Long gone are the days of “Don’t do this or that or the other thing” lists of classroom rules. At least I hope they are long gone… The influence of “responsive classroom,” greater awareness of the power of being positive and much research on effective classroom management have ushered in a new approach to establishing expectations in our schools. Most educators know that in order to learn, there has to be order in the court. Most educators know that “buy in” from the kids is the shortest route to arrive at the destination. Most educators know that it is a worthwhile investment of time and energy to lay a solid foundation at the start of each school year that incudes discussion about goals, hopes and dreams (see First Six Weeks of School, Responsive Classroom). 

Yet after 24 years (this year marks the beginning of my 25th !) I have just recently realized how much easier it will be to establish and reinforce the shared classroom agreements we will be creating using some of my favorite literary treasures. My vision includes a fair amount of “guided discovery,” AKA, I know what I want the outcome to be but I want the kids to feel like they have come up with it on their own. Here’s my plan…

The 31 letters are scrambled on the wall. This invitation is posted above.

  Dear Students,

   Please think about the kind of classroom where cool kids make

   awesome things happen every day. A place where we are all making   

   our hopes and dreams come true. The type of environment where  

   learning and looking out for each other are the name of the game.

   Using the 31 letters below, can you help build the 9 words that will

   guide us as shared agreements on this wonderful journey together?   

   Thanks!  Mrs. Rome

My hope is that my students will think, discuss and work together to take 31 letters and turn them into our classroom creed containing just nine words. Nine powerful words that when combined become five simple and short, yet powerful sentences. Just 31 letters that will guide us all year long as we design and navigate the roadmap to success in our 4th/5th grade Humanities classroom.

Be safe. Be kind. Work hard. Have fun. Grow.

These nine powerful words encompass all that I hope to accomplish with each one of my 50 scholars in the coming year. I am convinced that this mantra is something we can all agree on. Bringing these words to life, making them a part of our daily actions and most importantly, what we feel compelled to do in our hearts, is another order of business. A tall order of business. Yet this IS my business… to keep kids safe, to help them be kind and develop a strong work ethic, to experience joy as often as possible, and always, to cultivate their talents so they can grow and develop.

As is most often the case, when I find myself searching for wisdom from a reliable friend, I turn to the vast collection of books in our classroom library. As I begin my 25th year as an educator, I marvel at just how important my books and the lessons they provide are. Allow me to share how my treasures—picture books and chapter books—will pave the way to creating our classroom community in Room 123.

I will begin by sharing some of my favorite picture books, stories that can be shared in the first week or two of the new school year to help us establish the importance of our 31 letters. I don’t hesitate to read aloud these books that are usually reserved for the younger crowd, because I know that the big kids benefit from picture books just as much. The insights and discussions that come from these terrific titles help my students learn more about how our shared agreements will support our learning. The chapter books will unfold over days, weeks, months, yet again, the stories will illustrate how those 31 letters take our fictional friends through many life lessons.

At this very moment, educators all across the country are carefully planning or presenting lessons that are designed to promote enthusiasm for reading. At the same time, those dedicated individuals are working on building a positive classroom community. Most educators know that the right book in the hands of the right kid can make an enormous difference. Some of us even believe books have the ability to changes lives. I am grateful to know, love, and share these books with my colleagues.

Rome_stripBe Safe

The Huge Bag of Worries by Virginia Ironside

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Be Kind

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Work Hard

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman and Thank You Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco

Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

Have Fun

Wumbers (or anything by Amy Krause Rosenthal)

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Christopher Grabenstein


Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg and Beautiful Hands by Kathryn Otoshi

Wonder by RJ Palacio


Ready for the World with Powerful Literacy Practices

by Maurna Rome

I believe whole-heartedly in the importance of reading aloud daily to my students. On days I fail to meet this goal, I go home feeling like I’ve let the kids down. I recall the frenzy of Valentine’s Day with the excitement of school-wide bingo, special class projects and more than enough candy—but no time spent reading aloud. I doubt that the kids left my class thinking that something was missing that day and I am sure no one reported to their parents that their teacher really blew it by not reading to them. Yet it bothered me greatly. It wasn’t the first and won’t be the last day I fall short. However, I am dedicated to making reading aloud a priority in my classroom. I encourage every teacher to join me in making it a goal that students will not miss out on this essential ingredient from our arsenal of literacy best practices.

cover imageMore than 30 years ago, Jim Trelease wrote a little book that would become a national best seller, with more than a million copies sold. The 7th edition of The Read Aloud Handbook was released in 2013. It highlights present-day literacy challenges as well as those that have remained the same since 1982. I highly recommend this gem, along with several other “professional books” on this topic by experts I greatly admire: Unwrapping the Read Aloud by Lester Laminack; Igniting a Passion for Reading by Steven Layne, and Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox.
I can guarantee that none of the 9 year olds in my classroom have read any of the texts mentioned above. Chances are that they are also not aware of the recent report issued by Scholastic asserting that we can predict which kids will become our best readers based on how often they have benefitted from being read to.

However, when I recently challenged my students to write a letter to teachers everywhere about the importance of reading out loud to kids, they seem to have hit the nail on the head. Here is a sampling of their wisdom and insight:

  • I think it’s a good idea because every student will be wondering every time you read.
  • Your students might learn new words that they don’t know.
  • It’s a good idea to read chapter books to your students because they can see pictures in their minds.
  • Chapter books are full of adventures.
  • They can relate with something they did or something one of their family members did.
  • They can be better writers.
  • If it’s a funny chapter book, you will get a laugh out of it.
  • It gives kids ideas and more imagination. It might make kids want to read even more.

Laminack has identified six types of read alouds that offer teachers a sure fire way to accomplish the following: support standards, model the process of writing, build vocabulary, encourage children to read independently, demonstrate fluent reading and promote community. As I reflect on the responses from my students, I see that all six purposes are mentioned. I am convinced that the very best books for reading aloud are able to incorporate all of the above. What a powerful approach to making an impact on literacy achievement!

cover imageLast week we finished the unforgettable 2013 Newbery Award winner, The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate. Here is a peek at how this touching story played out in Room 132.

Supporting the standards: See the following examples and notations.

Modeling the process of writing: Using the six “sign posts” from Notice and Note by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst, we are always on the lookout for techniques the writer uses to tell the story. While reading Ivan, we have discovered that “tough questions”, “again and again”, and “words of the wiser” are woven throughout the story. Kids are now beginning to work these same elements into their own stories!
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.3.B Use dialogue and descriptions of actions, thoughts, and feelings to develop experiences and events or show the response of characters to situations.

Building vocabulary: During each read aloud session, a student serves as the “word recorder”. Students are encouraged to listen carefully and hold up their thumb anytime they notice a special or fancy word in the text. We talk about those words and the word recorder makes a list of all the words we discuss. Once we had over 30 words, each student selected one word, painted it on poster sized paper (as Ivan would have done) and then drew a picture to show the definition.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language.


Ivan characters in the classroom

Encouraging students to read independently: As with all of the books I read out loud in the classroom, students are eager to check out that very same title from the library. Those that are lucky enough to get their hands on the book bask in the light of knowing what is yet to come in the story. They keep the promise of not spoiling things for their peers, as they are clearly motivated to read ahead on their own.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, at the high end of the grades 2-3 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

Demonstrating fluent reading: To show my students what smooth oral reading sounds like, I emphasize the voice of each character. While reading The One and Only Ivan, Ruby is represented with a 5 year-old little girl voice, Ivan has a deep voice and Bob takes on a more sarcastic tone.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.3.4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.


Lit lunch celebration of Ivan

Promoting Community: The well developed characters from our read aloud stories become new friends to us. We talk and think about them as if they are actual members of our classroom, with lines such as “What would Ivan do?” or “Remember when Ivan …” One rainy day during inside recess, the kids playing with our plastic animal collection proudly set up a display of “Ivan” characters; Stella and Ruby the elephants, Bob the dog, Ivan and his sister, Not-Tag, the gorillas, were all arranged to reenact a scene from the book. It struck me that my students really are mindful of the characters we grow to love and admire. I stopped everything to draw attention to this sweet gesture and once again, my heart fluttered all because of a great book. This little pretend group of friends remained intact until we finished the book and celebrated with a “Lit Lunch” featuring yogurt covered raisins and bananas!

Yes, an effective read aloud can pack a lot of literacy into a short amount of time, yet I know it is often one of the first things that goes when the schedule gets too full. If you need more convincing to keep the read aloud front and center, consider what this young lady has to say…

Dear Teachers of Every Grade,
You should read to your students because they will be better readers and writers and learn faster and they will be ready for the world!

Looking for resources to help you plan for successful read alouds in your classroom?
Finding the best of the best books to read aloud:

Bookstorms on Bookology
Teacher’s Choice from ILA
Children’s Choice from ILA
Nerdy Book Club Awards 


Reading Ahead

A Streak of Gold in the Reading Pile

There are times when the reading pile provides a streak of can’t-put-the-book-down reading. It gets me all whipped up about reading, writing, authors, illustrators … and I respect all the players in this equation, the creators as well as the readers who get to play in the words. I’ve just recently been on such a […]