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Why I Love Children’s Books and Why You Should Love Them Too!

During Children’s Book Week, we asked people to share a list of the Top 10 Children’s Books they love (lists to come). What fun it was to read the lists. The lists reminded us of some old favorites and introduced us to some new soon-to-be favorites. It also made me reminisce about books I love.

There is nothing I love more than children’s books (except for my family and dogs, maybe). If you drop me in a bookstore, I will gravitate toward the children’s section. Especially the picture books. I think this comes from being a kindergarten teacher for many years. Picture books teach us about life, how to laugh at ourselves, see the joy and humor in the simplest of things. They teach us about how to treat others and how others should treat us. They help us sort through our feelings and find a friend who is like us when no one around us is. We read about places we haven’t been to, animals we haven’t seen, events we didn’t live through. Picture books are everything you need to know about life wrapped up in small packages.

It doesn’t matter if I’m teaching kindergarteners or adults, there is always a reason to read a picture book. One book that I’ve read to all ages is Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox. It’s a beautifully written and illustrated story about a little boy named Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge.

“…His house was next door to an old people’s home and he knew all the people who lived there. He liked Mr. Jordan who played the organ. He listened to Mr. Hosking who told him scary stories…. But his favourite person of all was Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper because she had four names just as he did. He called her Miss Nancy and told her all his secrets….”

If you haven’t met Wilfrid and Miss Nancy, you must get this book and read it. No matter who is in the audience, two things happen at the end of the book. The room is quiet, and I get teary-eyed (and so do some of the people listening). This book connects with all ages for all sorts of reasons. It’s a gem! There are so many picture books I love and new books I want to read, but forever and always Mem Fox and Joy Cowley will be my author idols of children’s picture books. Who are your favorite authors and/or illustrators? We’d love to know!

But it’s not just picture books that I love, we talk about kids who “read up,” meaning they are reading books above their grade level. Well, I am an adult who chooses to “read down” frequently. Where picture books teach us about life, beginning chapter books, middle-grade books, and YA books help kids get through life. These books are safe places for kids to connect with characters and the world. As a mom, these books have helped me connect my with son and his friends and to see the world through their eyes. The only problem with reading down for me is the amount of crying I do. A new books = a new box of tissues! One thing is clear, children’s books from picture books to YA make a mark on us. Let us know some books you love, so we know what to read next!

Here are a few of my current favorites to read and cry.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Wonder by R. J. Palacio (I’ve loved Wonder long before the world found it.)

Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz

Forever or a Long Time by Caela Carter

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti

As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardener


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Valentine’s Day Celebrations and Lessons in the Classroom

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I have many memories of Valentine’s Days in my classroom. I Loved how the room became one giant Valentine littered with glitter, glue, doilies, and construction paper. I loved reading favorite books, some that I couldn’t get through without a sniffle or two. There was Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli, Koala Lou by Mem Fox, What Do You Love? by Jonathan London, Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, Be My Valentine, Amelia Bedelia by Herman Parish, The Night Before Valentine’s Day by Natasha Wing, and many more. And then there was the candy and oh yes, we must count, sort, graph, and weigh it to get a math lesson in. The sanity-saving trick was to balance the celebration with learning!

After I left the classroom, I was lucky enough to work with teachers at all levels as a literacy coach. This sometimes required me to teach a model lesson to students that I didn’t know on a day like Valentine’s day. I quickly learned that using a book to kick off a lesson was the key to a successful lesson. This led me to a lesson on informational writing that started with Pink Is for Blobfish by Jess Keating. After reading the book, we talked about other misunderstood animals. Then we listed reasons why they were important or misunderstood. The students then choose one of the animals and wrote a Valentine to it.

When I work with older students, I encourage them to use Grammar Girl as a resource. For Valentine’s Day, she has a few posts that you could use as lesson starters in your classes. One of my favorites is I Love You: A Subject-Object Valentine.

Wishing you a Happy and not too crazy Valentine’s Day!LuanaMitten

Blobfish Valentine's Day WritingBlobfish Valentine's Day WritingBlobfish Valentine's Day Writing


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Meet the Author

Sarah Frank 

sarah frank-one chanceSarah Frank is a 15-year-old author, poet, and basketball player from Tampa, Florida. She attends Howard W. Blake High School of the Arts, where she studies creative writing and journalism. One Chance, Sarah’s first novel, was originally handwritten in a red notebook while she was in the fifth grade.

Besides reading books and catching up on her favorite shows such as Shark Tank, Sarah spends two weeks each summer at the University of South Florida attending the ICE Writers Camp sponsored by the Tampa Bay Area Writing Project (TBAWP), a chapter of the National Writing Project.

In addition to One Chance, Sarah has published a book of poems titled, What Really Happened in Elementary School! Super Silly Poems Scribbled in a Notebook.

You can find out what Sarah is up to by following her on Facebook (SarahFrankAuthor) and Instagram (@SarahFrankAuthor) or visiting her website at For information regarding Author Visits and other events, contact

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Are You Using Multicultural Books in Your Classroom?

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There can never be enough multicultural books in any classroom or library. Showcasing books around the many different cultures in the U.S. and world allows students, young and old, to understand people who are different from RedPencilthem. This understanding turns into acceptance and tolerance, which is what we should all strive for.

BoysWithoutNamesDo you know what’s in your classroom library? Your school library? Multicultural titles should be all inclusive regardless if that culture is represented in your classroom or school. It’s important to introduce cultures to students at a young age but just as important is continuing that education. The best way to introduce other cultures is through books. Here are some of our favorite books that represent a variety of different cultures perfect for preschool through high school. What are some of your favorite multicultural books? Add them to our list by leaving the title, author, and a brief description in the comments. For more information on diverse books, visit #WeNeedDiverseBooks at

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Baseball in April and Other Stories by Gary SotoBaseballApril

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

The Blessing Cup by Patricia Polacco

Boys without Names by Kashmira Sheth

The Cats in Krasinski Square by Karen HesseCatsInKrasinski

Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polaaco

Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco

Looking For Me by Betsy

Mrs. Katz and Tush by Patricia Polacco

My Name is Maria Isabel by Alma Flor Ada

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco

Red Butterfly by A.L. SonnichsenRedButterfly

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

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                                      KeepingQuilt  ChickenSunday    PinkSay  KatzTush  Blessing Cup