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April 5, 2011 April Book Picks! By Danielle Mahoney
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    April is finally here! We’ve had a cold and snowy winter in NYC, so we are welcoming the spring weather with open arms — April showers and all.

    April is finally here! We’ve had a cold and snowy winter in NYC, so we are welcoming the spring weather with open arms — April showers and all.

    This month’s booklist will help you explore all this month has to offer. We’ll kick off Poetry Month and plan Earth Day activities. Did you know that April is also National Humor Month? Many of my picks will keep your students laughing right along with you. Click on the links to find out more about the authors and illustrators featured this month, and be sure to grab some free resources from their sites. Happy spring! 

    Miss Mahoney's April Book Picks

    Spring Is in the Air!

    Onceuponaspringtime Once Upon a Springtime by Jean Marzollo

    Written by the author of the I Spy series and beautifully illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers, this Hello Reader! book describes a fawn’s first year of life. The book is loaded with facts about deer, forest life, and the seasons, offering lots of vocabulary building opportunities for young readers and ELL students.



    Lookatspring Let’s Look at Spring by Sarah L. Schuette

    I love how this nonfiction book incorporates all of the nonfiction text features we teach our students about, including colorful headings and a list of Internet sites. The combination of simple text and beautiful, full-page photos will motivate your students to read on to find out what makes this season so special.



    When Will It Be Spring? by Catherine Walters

    Great for younger grades, this book is a wonderful introduction to the change of seasons. As the young bear anxiously awaits the arrival of spring, his mother explains what to expect and instructs him to go back to bed. Of course, he’s so tired from staying up all winter, when spring finally does arrive, he’s fast asleep.

    With ample dialogue, ellipses, and text written in bold font, CAPS, and italics for emphasis, this is a great book for modeling fluency.



    Henry and Mudge in Puddle Trouble by Cynthia Rylant

    As each new season approaches, I always dig through my Cynthia Rylant book basket. Her Henry and Mudge series covers all of the seasons. Keep this in mind as we head towards summer!

    When the snows have finally melted, Henry and Mudge head outside to enjoy the spring weather. I can't help but chuckle when Mudge innocently eats the snow glory that Henry has been dying to pick. Laugh out loud and have some fun reading to your students this month. After all, April is National Humor Month


    Poppletonspring Poppleton in Spring by Cynthia Rylant

    Ready for spring cleaning? You can learn a thing or two from Poppleton and Cherry Sue! I love to use the books in the Poppleton series to work on character traits and making inferences with my students. The interactions between friends are lots of fun to analyze. Get students to clean out their desks, straighten up the classroom library, and organize those supply closets with inspiration from the Poppleton gang.






    Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin

    The diary begins at the start of the season and follows the worm’s journey to the summer’s end. Harry Bliss' adorable illustrations will have you laughing all the way through. Why not start your own students off with a science journal that will take them into summer writing? They can take photographs and tape them to the pages; add captions, zoomed-in pictures, arrows, thoughts, dreams, lists, recorded conversations, and sketches; and write down interesting facts about the world around them, just as the author does in this hysterical book. 



    MunchaMuncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming

    Meet Mr. McGreely. He loves his garden, and no matter what he does, a bunch of hungry bunnies gobbles up his hard work. Watch him go from angry to FURIOUS as he continues to find his precious sprouts gnawed up. Will he give in and just let the bunnies enjoy his garden? You'll have to read to find out!

    I love linking literacy to math skills. This is a great book to have on hand when introducing your students to area and perimeter. Have them measure out a fence for their dream garden and design a plan for just the right balance of fruit and veggies. This classroom guide from Candace Fleming's Web site will give you more ideas on how to use this book. Use G. Brian Karas' beautiful illustration as a model for the work on their own gardens.


    Kick Off Poetry Month


    RedsingsRed Sings From Treetops: A Year in Colors by Joyce Sidman 

    This Caldecott Award-winning book is filled with beautifully written poetry and unique collage art. Pamela Zagarenski is an amazing artist. (I came across this "blog about books" that featured her work. It's worth checking out.) As we turn the pages, we are taken on a journey through the seasons. Each color poem uses personification and touches on our senses.



     Red Sings From Treetops is a MUST have for teaching poetry this month. I’d keep this one close by for shared reading throughout the year as well. Get a taste of spring from this excerpt I wrote on chart paper to use as a mentor text in poetry and as a shared reading resource: 


    Celebrate Earth Day

    Happinesstree The Happiness Tree by Andrea Alban Gosline 

    This book is beyond beautiful. Lisa Burnett Bossi's paintings are incredible. Starting off with a pledge to care for the world, the book focuses on concepts like hope, peace, love, courage, gratitude, and compassion. Use this book to get your students writing about the world around them. Painted illustrations would be a perfect match.

    Check out this teacher's guide filled with ideas, lesson plans, and printable resources too good to pass up.

    GreatpaperThe Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers

    Get ready for Earth Day with one of my favorite authors, Oliver Jeffers. His adorable illustrations will have you "awww-ing" and cracking up as a group of friends searches for the one who's stealing branches and cutting down trees in their forest home. Read this book to introduce students to the types of problems facing our environment and to start conversations and debates. Get your kids to take notice of the waste around them and write up plans to reduce it on this T-chart. Then use the chart to write persuasive essays. 


    Below is one plan for reducing waste. Good thinking, Nathalia!


    I hope that this booklist inspires YOU to explore poetry, humor, and the wonders of the season with your students while reducing, reusing, and recycling. Here's to a month filled with creativity, respect for our environment, and lots of reading and writing. Enjoy!


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