Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short U Words


The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short U Words #phonics #teaching #kindergarten #1stgrade #2ndgrade #CVC #shortu


Over the years, I’ve had so many students (and my own child) be so determined that they are going to sound out that word by themselves with no assistance and then immediately struggle with the vowel sound. 

And what happens when I step in and verbally try to help? 

The kid feels defeated. 

They wanted to do it themselves. They wanted to take ownership of that word.  And that small /u/ sound that came out of my mouth ruined their plans. It zapped any intrinsic desire to conquer the word independently.

So, what is a teacher to do?  How can we help teach the Short U sound without destroying a kid’s love of independence and learning?

Here are my top five tips for establishing a strong phonics foundation that empowers students to take charge of their learning.


1. Utilize Sign Language

When initially teaching a new vowel sound, I always show students the corresponding ASL sign for the letter. This simple step incorporates movement and muscle memory which helps deepen the connection between the letter and the sound.  Here is the sign for the letter U:

The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short U Words


I like to make the /u/ sound while moving my hand up and pointing out that up make the /u/ sound.

The best thing about teaching students this sign is that it becomes a simple, nonverbal signal for students.

If a student is struggling to sound out a word, subtly holding up the sign gives a silent prompt which allows the student the scaffolding he needs to continue while also maintaining confidence and building independent reading skills.

One of my favorite things to see is when students start signaling themselves as they read.  They come to a word, stumble on the vowel sound, flash themselves the signal, decode, and continue on their independent and empowered way.


2. Anchor the Concept

Have you ever noticed how much kids’ eyes move around when they are quickly searching for an answer they don’t know?  Rather than having students stare at their shoes or wildly scan the room from side to side, give their eyes something to settle on – another nonverbal prompt. 

I like to have one main location in my room (mine is on the side of my whiteboard) where I put a poster of the week’s phonics skill. After the week is over I add the poster to a bulletin board so students can always reference it later. But for the week at hand, the week we are covering that Short U sound, this is the poster prominently displayed on my whiteboard:


The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short U Words - Phonics Poster


I explicitly teach students at the beginning of our phonics lesson that this is our poster for our unit and that we can reference it when we need help with that Short U sound. I model how I can read the words on the poster and how the “u” is in a different color so it stands out. I also model how seeing the sun reminds me of the Short U sound.  As the week progresses, I make sure to reference back to the poster, modeling how when I need help, I can look to that anchor.

If you’d like this Short U poster (and 19 other phonics skill posters), you can grab them for free here: Free Phonics Posters.


3. Examples! Examples! Examples!

Repetition is key.

You’ve probably heard various numbers, but there is a general idea (based on multiple studies) that kids need repetition to learn new words. Literacy expert Timothy Shanahan quotes research that show an average student needs around ten repetitions with a word to learn it. 

That’s 10 for an average student. 

Your kids who struggle even just a little bit will need more than ten. And the students who struggle a lot…

Repetition matters.


4. Make It Fun

Repetition is boring!

If you’re doing the same thing with the same words every day or multiple times within the same lesson, kids will zone out. You’ll lose them. That love of independent learning will be extinguished.
So, what can you do?

Sneak in the repetition like a ninja.

Read the words. Write the words. Use manipulatives to create the words. Play games with the words.  Illustrate the words. The possibilities are endless!

But, the time it takes to create those possibilities so repetition is fun and exciting is also endless. It takes hours to make all that productive fun for just one phonics skill!

The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short U Words - Word Work and ActivitiesDon’t worry – I’ve got you covered.

I have over 100 phonics skill packs ready to go for you. The Short U ones are right here:

-CVC Short U Word Work
-uck Word Work
-ug Word Work
-ump Word Work
-un Word Work
-unk Word Work

These packs each include 30 different word work activities that start at the foundational level and build to mastering Short U skills.

Kids get a range of fun activities including cutting & gluing, tracing, stamping, word sorting, illustrating, coloring, story writing, and more. Students also get to solve word puzzles, complete word searches, and play I have… Who has… with Short U words. This is all the repetition those kids need in one place.

Best of all? It’s low prep!

If you want to check out the other packs that are available, use this Free Word Work Guide with clickable links.


5. Turn the Tables

Students who have that independent, I-want-to-do-it-myself (aka stubborn) attitude towards learning love nothing more than the power and control of being in charge. Harness that tenacious mind and let the student become the teacher.  

When students know that they get to be the teacher for a concept, it inspires them to take control of their learning.  They need to know that Short U sound well enough to teach it to you and the rest of the class.

So ask them, what part of the Short U sound do they want to teach everyone? The ASL sign for Short U? How to use the anchor poster effectively? How to decode Short U words? How to manipulate the sounds in the word sun so that it becomes fun?

Putting teaching in the hands of students creates instant empowerment.


The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short U Words #phonics #teaching #kindergarten #1stgrade #2ndgrade #CVC #shortu


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short O Words


The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short O Words #phonics #teaching #kindergarten #1stgrade #2ndgrade #CVC #shorto

Over the years, I’ve had so many students (and my own child) be so determined that they are going to sound out that word by themselves with no assistance and then immediately struggle with the vowel sound. 

And what happens when I step in and verbally try to help? 

The kid feels defeated. 

They wanted to do it themselves. They wanted to take ownership of that word.  And that small /o/ sound that came out of my mouth ruined their plans. It zapped any intrinsic desire to conquer the word independently.

So, what is a teacher to do?  How can we help teach the Short O sound without destroying a kid’s love of independence and learning?

Here are my top five tips for establishing a strong phonics foundation that empowers students to take charge of their learning.


1. Utilize Sign Language

When initially teaching a new vowel sound, I always show students the corresponding ASL sign for the letter. This simple step incorporates movement and muscle memory which helps deepen the connection between the letter and the sound.  Here is the sign for the letter O:

The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short O Words


I like to tell kids you can sing opera through the "o" shape your hand makes.

The best thing about teaching students this sign is that it becomes a simple, nonverbal signal for students.

If a student is struggling to sound out a word, subtly holding up the sign gives a silent prompt which allows the student the scaffolding he needs to continue while also maintaining confidence and building independent reading skills.

One of my favorite things to see is when students start signaling themselves as they read.  They come to a word, stumble on the vowel sound, flash themselves the signal, decode, and continue on their independent and empowered way.


2. Anchor the Concept

Have you ever noticed how much kids’ eyes move around when they are quickly searching for an answer they don’t know?  Rather than having students stare at their shoes or wildly scan the room from side to side, give their eyes something to settle on – another nonverbal prompt. 

I like to have one main location in my room (mine is on the side of my whiteboard) where I put a poster of the week’s phonics skill. After the week is over I add the poster to a bulletin board so students can always reference it later. But for the week at hand, the week we are covering that Short O sound, this is the poster prominently displayed on my whiteboard:


The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short O Words - Phonics Poster


I explicitly teach students at the beginning of our phonics lesson that this is our poster for our unit and that we can reference it when we need help with that Short O sound. I model how I can read the words on the poster and how the “o” is in a different color so it stands out. I also model how seeing the fox reminds me of the Short O sound.  As the week progresses, I make sure to reference back to the poster, modeling how when I need help, I can look to that anchor.

If you’d like this Short O poster (and 19 other phonics skill posters), you can grab them for free here: Free Phonics Posters.


3. Examples! Examples! Examples!

Repetition is key.

You’ve probably heard various numbers, but there is a general idea (based on multiple studies) that kids need repetition to learn new words. Literacy expert Timothy Shanahan quotes research that show an average student needs around ten repetitions with a word to learn it. 

That’s 10 for an average student. 

Your kids who struggle even just a little bit will need more than ten. And the students who struggle a lot…

Repetition matters.


4. Make It Fun

Repetition is boring!

If you’re doing the same thing with the same words every day or multiple times within the same lesson, kids will zone out. You’ll lose them. That love of independent learning will be extinguished.
So, what can you do?

Sneak in the repetition like a ninja.

Read the words. Write the words. Use manipulatives to create the words. Play games with the words.  Illustrate the words. The possibilities are endless!

But, the time it takes to create those possibilities so repetition is fun and exciting is also endless. It takes hours to make all that productive fun for just one phonics skill!

The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short O Words - Word Work and ActivitiesDon’t worry – I’ve got you covered.

I have over 100 phonics skill packs ready to go for you. The Short O ones are right here:

-CVC Short O Word Work
-ob Word Work
-ock Word Work
-og Word Work
-op Word Work
-ot Word Work


These packs each include 30 different word work activities that start at the foundational level and build to mastering Short O skills. 

Kids get a range of fun activities including cutting & gluing, tracing, stamping, word sorting, illustrating, coloring, story writing, and more. Students also get to solve word puzzles, complete word searches, and play I have… Who has… with Short O words. This is all the repetition those kids need in one place.

Best of all? It’s low prep!

If you want to check out the other packs that are available, use this Free Word Work Guide with clickable links.


5. Turn the Tables

Students who have that independent, I-want-to-do-it-myself (aka stubborn) attitude towards learning love nothing more than the power and control of being in charge. Harness that tenacious mind and let the student become the teacher.  

When students know that they get to be the teacher for a concept, it inspires them to take control of their learning.  They need to know that Short O sound well enough to teach it to you and the rest of the class.

So ask them, what part of the Short O sound do they want to teach everyone? The ASL sign for Short O? How to use the anchor poster effectively? How to decode Short O words? How to manipulate the sounds in the word fox so that it becomes fog?

Putting teaching in the hands of students creates instant empowerment.


The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short O Words #phonics #teaching #kindergarten #1stgrade #2ndgrade #CVC #shorto


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short I Words


The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short I Words #phonics #teaching #kindergarten #1stgrade #2ndgrade #CVC #shorti

Over the years, I’ve had so many students (and my own child) be so determined that they are going to sound out that word by themselves with no assistance and then immediately struggle with the vowel sound. 

And what happens when I step in and verbally try to help? 

The kid feels defeated. 

They wanted to do it themselves. They wanted to take ownership of that word.  And that small /i/ sound that came out of my mouth ruined their plans. It zapped any intrinsic desire to conquer the word independently.

So, what is a teacher to do?  How can we help teach the Short I sound without destroying a kid’s love of independence and learning?

Here are my top five tips for establishing a strong phonics foundation that empowers students to take charge of their learning.


1. Utilize Sign Language

When initially teaching a new vowel sound, I always show students the corresponding ASL sign for the letter. This simple step incorporates movement and muscle memory which helps deepen the connection between the letter and the sound.  Here is the sign for the letter I:

The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short I Words


I like to make the /i/ sound while bending my finger, kind of like the finger is talking and making the sound.

The best thing about teaching students this sign is that it becomes a simple, nonverbal signal for students.

If a student is struggling to sound out a word, subtly holding up the sign gives a silent prompt which allows the student the scaffolding he needs to continue while also maintaining confidence and building independent reading skills.

One of my favorite things to see is when students start signaling themselves as they read.  They come to a word, stumble on the vowel sound, flash themselves the signal, decode, and continue on their independent and empowered way.


2. Anchor the Concept

Have you ever noticed how much kids’ eyes move around when they are quickly searching for an answer they don’t know?  Rather than having students stare at their shoes or wildly scan the room from side to side, give their eyes something to settle on – another nonverbal prompt. 

I like to have one main location in my room (mine is on the side of my whiteboard) where I put a poster of the week’s phonics skill. After the week is over I add the poster to a bulletin board so students can always reference it later. But for the week at hand, the week we are covering that Short I sound, this is the poster prominently displayed on my whiteboard:


The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short I Words - Phonics Poster


I explicitly teach students at the beginning of our phonics lesson that this is our poster for our unit and that we can reference it when we need help with that Short I sound. I model how I can read the words on the poster and how the “i” is in a different color so it stands out. I also model how seeing the fin reminds me of the Short I sound.  As the week progresses, I make sure to reference back to the poster, modeling how when I need help, I can look to that anchor.

If you’d like this Short I poster (and 19 other phonics skill posters), you can grab them for free here: Free Phonics Posters.


3. Examples! Examples! Examples!

Repetition is key.

You’ve probably heard various numbers, but there is a general idea (based on multiple studies) that kids need repetition to learn new words. Literacy expert Timothy Shanahan quotes research that show an average student needs around ten repetitions with a word to learn it. 

That’s 10 for an average student. 

Your kids who struggle even just a little bit will need more than ten. And the students who struggle a lot…

Repetition matters.


4. Make It Fun

Repetition is boring!

If you’re doing the same thing with the same words every day or multiple times within the same lesson, kids will zone out. You’ll lose them. That love of independent learning will be extinguished.
So, what can you do?

Sneak in the repetition like a ninja.

Read the words. Write the words. Use manipulatives to create the words. Play games with the words.  Illustrate the words. The possibilities are endless!

But, the time it takes to create those possibilities so repetition is fun and exciting is also endless. It takes hours to make all that productive fun for just one phonics skill!

The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short I Words - Word Work and ActivitiesDon’t worry – I’ve got you covered.

I have over 100 phonics skill packs ready to go for you. The Short I ones are right here:

-CVC Short I Word Work
-it Word Work
-ip Word Work
-in Word Work
-ig Word Work
-id Word Work

These packs each include 30 different word work activities that start at the foundational level and build to mastering short i skills. 

Kids get a range of fun activities including cutting & gluing, tracing, stamping, word sorting, illustrating, coloring, story writing, and more. Students also get to solve word puzzles, complete word searches, and play I have… Who has… with Short I words. This is all the repetition those kids need in one place.

Best of all? It’s low prep!

If you want to check out the other packs that are available, use this Free Word Work Guide with clickable links.


5. Turn the Tables

Students who have that independent, I-want-to-do-it-myself (aka stubborn) attitude towards learning love nothing more than the power and control of being in charge. Harness that tenacious mind and let the student become the teacher.  

When students know that they get to be the teacher for a concept, it inspires them to take control of their learning.  They need to know that Short I sound well enough to teach it to you and the rest of the class.

So ask them, what part of the Short I sound do they want to teach everyone? The ASL sign for Short I? How to use the anchor poster effectively? How to decode Short I words? How to manipulate the sounds in the word fin so that it becomes fit?

Putting teaching in the hands of students creates instant empowerment.


The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short I Words #phonics #teaching #kindergarten #1stgrade #2ndgrade #CVC #shorti


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short E Words


The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short E Words #phonics #teaching #kindergarten #1stgrade #2ndgrade #shorte #CVC

Over the years, I’ve had so many students (and my own child) be so determined that they are going to sound out that word by themselves with no assistance and then immediately struggle with the vowel sound. 

And what happens when I step in and verbally try to help? 

The kid feels defeated. 

They wanted to do it themselves. They wanted to take ownership of that word.  And that small /e/ sound that came out of my mouth ruined their plans. It zapped any intrinsic desire to conquer the word independently.

So, what is a teacher to do?  How can we help teach the Short E sound without destroying a kid’s love of independence and learning?

Here are my top five tips for establishing a strong phonics foundation that empowers students to take charge of their learning.


1. Utilize Sign Language

When initially teaching a new vowel sound, I always show students the corresponding ASL sign for the letter. This simple step incorporates movement and muscle memory which helps deepen the connection between the letter and the sound.  Here is the sign for the letter E:


The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short E Words


I like to tell kids it kind of looks like an "e" with the top fingers curling into the middle of the hand and the thumb looping up from the bottom.

The best thing about teaching students this sign is that it becomes a simple, nonverbal signal for students.

If a student is struggling to sound out a word, subtly holding up the sign gives a silent prompt which allows the student the scaffolding he needs to continue while also maintaining confidence and building independent reading skills.

One of my favorite things to see is when students start signaling themselves as they read.  They come to a word, stumble on the vowel sound, flash themselves the signal, decode, and continue on their independent and empowered way.


2. Anchor the Concept

Have you ever noticed how much kids’ eyes move around when they are quickly searching for an answer they don’t know?  Rather than having students stare at their shoes or wildly scan the room from side to side, give their eyes something to settle on – another nonverbal prompt. 

I like to have one main location in my room (mine is on the side of my whiteboard) where I put a poster of the week’s phonics skill. After the week is over I add the poster to a bulletin board so students can always reference it later. But for the week at hand, the week we are covering that Short E sound, this is the poster prominently displayed on my whiteboard:


The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short E Words - Anchor Poster

I explicitly teach students at the beginning of our phonics lesson that this is our poster for our unit and that we can reference it when we need help with that Short E sound. I model how I can read the words on the poster and how the “e” is in a different color so it stands out. I also model how seeing the hen reminds me of the Short E sound.  As the week progresses, I make sure to reference back to the poster, modeling how when I need help, I can look to that anchor.

If you’d like this Short E poster (and 19 other phonics skill posters), you can grab them for free here: Free Phonics Posters.


3. Examples! Examples! Examples!

Repetition is key.

You’ve probably heard various numbers, but there is a general idea (based on multiple studies) that kids need repetition to learn new words. Literacy expert Timothy Shanahan quotes research that show an average student needs around ten repetitions with a word to learn it. 

That’s 10 for an average student. 

Your kids who struggle even just a little bit will need more than ten. And the students who struggle a lot…

Repetition matters.


4. Make It Fun

Repetition is boring!

If you’re doing the same thing with the same words every day or multiple times within the same lesson, kids will zone out. You’ll lose them. That love of independent learning will be extinguished.
So, what can you do?

Sneak in the repetition like a ninja.

Read the words. Write the words. Use manipulatives to create the words. Play games with the words.  Illustrate the words. The possibilities are endless!

But, the time it takes to create those possibilities so repetition is fun and exciting is also endless. It takes hours to make all that productive fun for just one phonics skill!

The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short E Words - Word Work and ActivitiesDon’t worry – I’ve got you covered.

I have over 100 phonics skill packs ready to go for you. The Short E ones are right here:





These packs each include 30 different word work activities that start at the foundational level and build to mastering Short E skills. 

Kids get a range of fun activities including cutting & gluing, tracing, stamping, word sorting, illustrating, coloring, story writing, and more. Students also get to solve word puzzles, complete word searches, and play I have… Who has… with Short E words. This is all the repetition those kids need in one place.

Best of all? It’s low prep!

If you want to check out the other packs that are available, use this Free Word Work Guide with clickable links.


5. Turn the Tables

Students who have that independent, I-want-to-do-it-myself (aka stubborn) attitude towards learning love nothing more than the power and control of being in charge. Harness that tenacious mind and let the student become the teacher.  

When students know that they get to be the teacher for a concept, it inspires them to take control of their learning.  They need to know that Short E sound well enough to teach it to you and the rest of the class.

So ask them, what part of the Short E sound do they want to teach everyone? The ASL sign for Short E? How to use the anchor poster effectively? How to decode Short E words? How to manipulate the sounds in the word hen so that it becomes den?

Putting teaching in the hands of students creates instant empowerment.

The Top Five Tips for Teaching Short E Words #phonics #teaching #kindergarten #1stgrade #2ndgrade #shorte #CVC

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Most Inspiring Back to School Picture Books


I love coming back to school! It’s a fresh start for my students and for me. Yeah, it can be difficult coming off the fun of summer break but diving into literature, teaching kids how to read, analyzing meaning, and reading in silly voices is my jam. I just love it.

My favorite part of coming back to school with a fresh group of students is getting to set the tone for the whole year. From day one I want my students to know that my priority is for them to love learning.

Read alouds are the gateway to inspire, motivate, and encourage students to be their best and do their best.

Here are some of the picture books I use on the first day of school and over the first few weeks to invite my students to our classroom and inspire them to love learning as much as I do.


The Most Inspiring Back to School Picture Books to set up your classroom on the right track for the whole year. #picturebooks #classroommanagement #behavior #grit #perseverance #growthmindset


The Most Inspiring Back to School Picture Books

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

Book Description: Rosie Revere dreamed of becoming a great engineer. Where some people see rubbish, Rosie sees inspiration. Alone in her room at night, shy Rosie constructs great inventions from odds and ends. Hot dog dispensers, helium pants, python-repelling cheese hats: Rosie’s gizmos would astound—if she ever let anyone see them.

Afraid of failure, she hides them away under her bed. Until a fateful visit from her great-great-aunt Rose (AKA Rosie the Riveter!), who shows her that the first flop isn’t something to fear—it’s something to celebrate. And you can only truly fail, if you quit.

Why I Love It: Rosie Revere celebrates that first tries are often a flop but that you take the small successes from a first try and build it into a second, third, and fourth try. Persistence and passion pay off.

_______________________________________________

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins 

Book Description: It's the first day of school for Penelope Rex, and she can't wait to meet her classmates. But it's hard to make human friends when they're so darn delicious! That is, until Penelope gets a taste of her own medicine and finds she may not be at the top of the food chain after all. . . .


Why I Love It: Kids laugh out loud with this book and can relate to Penelope’s plight – sometimes we impulsively want to do something because it seems fun or yummy, but we should consider how our actions make others feel.



_______________________________________________

The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Gary Rubinstein and Mark Pett

Book Description:  Beatrice Bottomwell has NEVER (not once!) made a mistake. She never forgets her math homework, she never wears mismatched socks, and she ALWAYS wins the yearly talent show at school. In fact, the entire town calls her The Girl Who Never Makes Mistakes! One day, the inevitable happens: Beatrice makes a huge mistake in front of everyone! But in the end, readers (and perfectionists) will realize that life is more fun when you enjoy everything―even the mistakes.

Why I Love It: This book hits home for the perfectionists out there (I have a guilty look on my face right now). It shows students that everyone makes mistakes and that’s okay. It’s important to be kind to yourself, give yourself a little grace, and remember to have fun.

_______________________________________________


Book Description: At the 1929 Rose Bowl, talented center Roy Riegels picked up a fumble and made an incredible sixty-five-yard run. There was just one problem: Roy Riegels was running the wrong way!


Renowned author Dan Gutman recreates this painful (but funny) moment in sports history in a picture book play-by-play of the game's most thrilling moments-all framed by a friendly grandpa remembering the game for his grandson. Told with the excitement of a sports announcer calling the greatest game of his life, and shown through vivid, cartoonlike illustrations by Kerry Talbott, The Day Roy Riegels Ran the Wrong Way is a feast of humor and history for any sports fan.

Why I Love It: Again, it hits the theme that we all make mistakes but with a real-life example. This one is a hit with football lovers. Plus, kids appreciate and are astounded by the fact that it really happened.

_______________________________________________

Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae 

Book Description: Gerald the giraffe longs to go to the great Jungle Dance, but how can he join in when he doesn't know how to tango or two-step? Everyone knows that giraffes can't dance ... or can they?

A funny, touching and triumphant story about being yourself and finding your own tune, Giraffes Can't Dance has been a family favorite for 20 years.


Why I Love It: Sometimes other people will think you can’t do something and they may even be mean about it. If there is something you want to do, don’t let others hold you back.

_______________________________________________

Sticks by Diane Alber 

Book Description: Sticks is about a Popsicle that accidentally melts and becomes just a plain stick. He has a hard time adjusting to his new normal but with the help of some new friends (who happen to be sticks too) he realizes that everything happened for a reason and that melting was part of his journey.

Why I Love It: This book emphasizes the importance of kindness, empathy, and perseverance. I like to discuss how some days we are like Stick who needs a friend. Some days we have the opportunity to be like Twig and reach out to others.

_______________________________________________

I Can Handle It by Laurie Wright

Book Description: Your children will incorporate the mindful mantra I Can Handle It almost immediately after reading this book!

In a tough situation, they will think 'I can handle it', and when they are dealing with tough emotions, they will think 'I can handle it!' Even if they aren't saying the words out loud, if they learn and practice this mantra it will become a part of their self-talk.

Why I Love It: Positive self-talk can be difficult for kids (and adults) if it has never been modeled for them. This book provides a simple phrase that can help students through difficult situations. It will quickly become a classroom mantra that even teachers can model when the unexpected comes up.

_______________________________________________


Book Description: This is the story of a persistent problem and the child who isn't so sure what to make of it. The longer the problem is avoided, the bigger it seems to get. But when the child finally musters up the courage to face it, the problem turns out to be something quite different than it appeared.

Why I Love It: This one is an important read at any age. Sometimes our problems seem insurmountable. We may try to ignore them, yell at them, or hide from them but problems can be persistent. The best thing to do is face a problem and often you realize that it’s not as bad as you thought and something entirely different may be hiding within it.

_______________________________________________

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

Book Description: Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board. In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, newcomer Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.

Why I Love It: I want students to know that they can overcome any fears they have, especially about learning. Sometimes we may dawdle and come up with excuses, but I will be there patiently encouraging students to be their best and do their best. Also, I love that this book features such a positive father.

_______________________________________________

Hannah and Sugar by Kate Berube 

Book Description: Every day after school, Hannah’s school bus is greeted by her classmate’s dog, Sugar. All of the other kids love Sugar, but Hannah just can’t conquer her fear of dogs. Then, one day, Sugar goes missing, so Hannah joins the search with her classmates. Will Hannah find a way to be brave, and make a new friend in the process?

Why I Love It: This is another book about being brave and facing your fears. Sometimes we are put in situations that push us to be braver than we want. It shows that when we face our fears, the outcome is often unexpectedly positive.

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The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires

Book Description: Lou and her friends are BRAVE adventurers. They run FASTER than airplanes. They build MIGHTY fortresses. They rescue WILD animals. But one day, when they’re looking for a ship to play pirates in, Lou s friend has an idea: Up there! The tree can be our ship! Ummm ... says Lou. This is something new. Lou has never climbed a tree before, and she is sure she can’t do it. So she tries to convince her friends to play a not-up-a-tree game. When that doesn’t work, she comes up with reasons for not joining them her arm is sore, her cat needs a walk, you shouldn’t climb so soon after eating. Finally, she tells herself she doesn’t want to climb the tree. But is that true, or is this brave adventurer just too afraid to try?


Why I Love It: This is yet another book about facing your fears, but it is a little different. Like the other books listed, Lou avoids what she fears and then finally tries it. But in this book, when she finally tries to climb that tree, Lou fails. She can’t do it. But, she decides she’ll try again tomorrow. I really love the one-two punch of facing your fears and having persistence and grit when things don’t go how you want.  

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After the Fall by Dan Santat

Book Description: Everyone knows that when Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. But what happened after?

Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat's poignant tale follows Humpty Dumpty, an avid bird watcher whose favorite place to be is high up on the city wall―that is, until after his famous fall. Now terrified of heights, Humpty can longer do many of the things he loves most.

Will he summon the courage to face his fear?

Why I Love It: Humpty Dumpty has a good reason to be afraid of heights. The last time he was on that wall, he fell! I want my students to know that even when we fall and even when it’s scary, we can get back up again and amazing things can happen.

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