Monday, June 24, 2013

Weekend Finds-- $5 Books at Kohl's!

Books for $5 each at Kohl's! 
This weekend Mom and I did a quick trip into Kohl's and I noticed that they were selling a book I have been wanting for a couple of years now. The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen has been on my must have list ever since I student taught in kindergarten. I love the illustrations and funny rhythmic lines, "I'm a pout-pout fish with a pout-pout face..." Since I love this book so much I had to get the companion book they were selling as well, The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark. So happy to have these cute books! *

The price was stellar as you've seen my caption! $5 each and hard cover. Score! I learned that the books sold at Kohl's are for their foundation called Kohl's Cares for Kids. 100% of the money from each book is used for providing better health and education for children. According to Kohl's website, "Since its inception in 2000, our Kohl's Cares cause merchandise program has raised more than $208 million, up from $180 million as of the end of Kohl's 2010 fiscal year, to support kids' health and education initiatives in communities nationwide." How awesome is that?!

I did a little research and found that Kohl's donated $1.5 million dollars to the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin on May 21st, which is great. I'm glad that children are getting the help they need and hopefully that brings some hope to parents.

I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for the next book feature at Kohl's!

Happy Book Hunting :)

*I will do a book recommendation post on these soon

Friday, June 21, 2013

Book Recommendation: Work Hard. Be Nice.

Image from
Book: Work Hard. Be Nice: How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America 
Author: Jay Mathews
Copyright: 2009
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Type: Teacher Reads - to inspire educators of all kind
Where to get it: Your local library, Powells or Amazon (you can get used or new)
More information on the book and the KIPP:
I read this book over a year ago, but it has had a lasting affect on my views towards children that come from low-income and disadvantaged living situations. Today, there is much talk about the "achievement gap." Sadly, students of color and/or that come from low-income areas often perform less than their counterparts. This is a controversial issue but it is one that must be dealt with so that all students can have equal opportunities to learn and be successful. Jay Mathews describes how Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin took a stab at this issue by creating their own unique charter schools, Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP). Creating these charter schools came with challenges and struggles, but they have positively touched many lives as a result. These schools provide underserved communities with education that prepares students for college. According to the KIPP website, more than 83 percent of the KIPP students have gone to college; students that may have not had opportunity without such good quality education.

This book helped me understand the problems that these students face and what it takes on the educator's side to solve this massive injustice. Depending on your area in the education field, you will take away various aspects from this book. A principal may read this book and see an overall way to improve his/her school. A teacher or teacher candidate, like me, may be learn how to communicate and motivate struggling students.

This story in the book made an impression on me, "Kenneth McGregor, at his previous school, had been like many bright children. He had been considered a problem, not an asset. He sensed the fear and hostility and reacted negatively, exacerbating the cycle of bad behavior... He got by on little work, which led him to lose respect for the routine of going to school each day, which made him misbehave more" (p.245). Sound like anyone you know? Unfortunately, I have met many Kenneth's in my day.

However, when given the opportunity to grow, these types of students blossom. They become bright and vivid, just as they should and deserve to be: "It took Kenneth some time to grow accustomed to his change of circumstances at KIPP. Eventually he realized that the hard work he was getting at KIPP was not another annoying school chore but a sign of respect. These people, as irksome as they were with their demands and tough talk, cared about him, just as his mother did when she tied him up with all the rules" (p. 245). Yes, when students are respected, cared for and have boundaries -- they shine. There may be stormy days but these students internalize that they have a purpose. This my hope for all children.

I encourage anyone in the education field to read this book and those concerned about America's students.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Book Recommendation: Miss Rumphius

Book image from
Book: Miss Rumphius - a Winner of the American Book Award
Author & Illustrator: Barbara Clooney
Copyright: 1982
Publisher: Picture Puffins
Type: Read Aloud, suggested for K-2 grades
Where to get it: Your local library or Amazon (you can get used or new)
More information on the book: Scholastic website

Recently, a parent asked me what book I would recommend to her young daughter. I suggested that she read Miss Rumphius because the book contains beautiful illustrations, higher level vocabulary and a powerful message.

Barbara Clooney uses interesting words and phrases, such as: wharves, bristling masts, prows of ships, conservatory, and several others. Her words flow on the pages just like the calming scenery. A gentle journey through Miss Rumphius' life with a repeated and compelling message: "You must do something to make the world more beautiful."

I suggest this book for all children because it encourages one to follow their dreams, but to give back to their communities. Further, I recommend this book because it fits with my life and teaching philosophy: learning is great but we must do something with it. I highly recommend this book for parents and educators to read to children.

Happy reading!