Today’s interactive books…

In 2011 I found it. It was definitely the most fun book I’ve played with since Tails or Alphabet by Matthew Van Fleet. They had a lot in common too. There’s a reason Matthew Van Fleet’s books are in the Learn and Play section of your local Chapters or Indigo. But there was something special about this book – something MAGICAL!

Now you might think that I’m talking about something with dragons or wizards or fairies. And yes, I love all of those things, but this book is void of that kind of intricacy. The magic is in the simple genius of it, the fact that you, the reader, has the power to alter each page.

If you know of the book, you’ve probably figured it out.

Press Here by Herve Tullet is a game changer. (You can check out the trailer here to see what I mean) The book gives you instructions and “reacts” to your touch. And it’s not the only one! Herve Tullet has just released Mix it Up, an equally amazing picture book. If that isn’t enough for you, the same type of brilliance can be found in Christie Matheson’s Tap the Magic Tree I recently watched a video of a woman reading “Don’t Push The Button” by Bill Cotter and immediately went to amazon to order it. I love that I keep finding more!

Books can be different. Practically digital. Do you know what I mean? The swiping, tapping, shaking all harken back to what many curse as the book killer -the iPad. Maybe some will admit that there is something to learn from technology after all ūüėČ

As a teacher, my mind races to the idea of easily the most enjoyable comprehension test ever made. You do what the book tells you. You know you’re right when a (somewhat) logical result has occurred on the next page.

As a person, I’m intrigued by the magic in the apparent causation and the feeling that I’m in charge of the changes made in the book to some extent.

There’s no doubt that these are game changers. Enjoy the new dimension of literature!


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More Bears


I’m choosing to interrupt whatever it is I’ve been promising to talk about because I need you all to know about More Bears by Kenn Nesbitt and excellently illustrated by Troy Cummings.¬†

And do you know why?

Because it will make you an expert at story time.  No other book carries itself so easily. 

Let the kids know you need their help! At the start of the story I¬† whisper to them that I need their help.¬† They are intrigued.¬† I tell them that whenever I do the thumbs up, they need to yell out “MORE BEARS” as loud as they possibly can.¬† (Let’s note that I chose the thumbs up because I initially used to just raise my arm and I looked a little bit too much like I was making some sort of military gesture that the kids were all responding to. haha.)

Anyway, I count to three and we all practice.¬† Then (no matter how loud they are) I tell them it wasn’t loud enough. We try again.¬† Now we’re set.

Read the book front to back.¬† You’re safe ANY¬†time you ever ever ever have to do story time to a small (or large… just bring some earplugs) group of kids.¬† Even if you’re not in a good story telling mood.¬† By the end of it you will be.¬†

Oh, and in case you’re wondering… More Bears is a metastory about an author writing a story with absolutely NO bears in it.¬† A lovely story with not a single bear anywhere.¬† Until some children continually yell out, “More BEARS!!!!” forcing him to take the story in another direction.

Join Excellent Steve, Captain Picklehead, and One Two Three (“which even the author agrees is a strange name for a bear”) and experience the hilarity.

Just buy it-it’s not even worth borrowing it because it will¬†be the most freqently read aloud book you’ve ever owned.¬† I promise.

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The Flower

The Flower by John LightThe Flower by John Light

First of all, this book is REALLY different from your usual artwork and the usual feel of a book promoting gardening and stewardship and the like.¬† It’s dark looking, but not morbid… It’s no Emily Strange or anything like that.

What I’m going to do is go step by step through what the primary classes were doing with this book and that will give you a good summary of the story -hopefully!

I want to mention that this is not MY lesson plan at all! The Literacy Coach implemented this lesson AND then whoever selects the “Model Schools for Inner Cities” character development stuff used the book again with a different lesson – a math lesson.

I’ll start with pre reading activities.¬† In another post I’ll talk about the actual book.¬† This is mostly a drama and arts lesson. Enjoy!


So the kids got in from recess and found flower pots with daisies and many different flowers on a table in the room.  They were so excited!  The teacher had them smell the flowers and talk about the colours and the way everyone felt with these flowers around them.  They wrote the descriptive words on the chart paper.

Making Personal Connections: recorded on chart paper
What do flowers mean to you?
Describe what you see, touch, smell.
How do flowers make you feel?
What do flowers give to us?

Translating Words into Movement:
Warm up: grow like a flower, move in the wind. use different levels.  A static/tableau excercise or a motion activity.

Bodystorm: Choose a word from the list and move the word as many ways as you can. Explore levels shapes, size, energy, quality.  Say it with your Body. Use whole body movement. (Possible Extension: work with a partner. Find a way to connect your movements together.)
Teacher Leading: create short bursts of movement to interpret words. Put together a short movement phrase and dance to music.

Challenge and Inspire (Provocation): Discussion
What meaning do flowers hold in our society?
Why might some people feel that flowers are dangerous?
What would it be like if there were no flowers at all? (a quick chat)

I’ll post the rest later, but this post would be tediously long if I posted it all in one.¬†

happy pre-teaching,

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The Earth Book

The Earth Book by Todd Parr

The Earth Book by Todd Parr

First off, there’s an app I just found on itunes.¬†¬†I know¬†$9.99 may seem expensive to those of you who, like me, raaaaaaaaarely pay for apps and ESPECIALLY since the physical book is only a dollar more.. but this book is so excellent, and if you can’t make it out to a bookstore in time for Earth Day, it’s worth it.¬† Here’s the link for that

Anyway, I don’t think there’s a simpler or clearer way to express both the importance of treating the environment well AND ways to achieve this.¬† All of his books are straighforward and sweet and just perfect for young primary grades or kindergarten aged children.¬† There’s a poster of 10 ways to help the environment at the back too.¬†

Here’s Todd reading it.¬† He’s so jolly and friendly, I just want to be his friend!

Next, I want to point out this amazing lesson I just found on – yes, the same place as the Curious Garden lesson.¬† That was simply coincidence, but DAMN it’s a good site!

Here’s one for Grade 6 Science (specifically following the Ontario Curriculum)

For Earth Day I made the kids a card type thing that said “Happy Earth Day!” and on the inside had the words of this book typed as a poem.¬† And on another page I wrote steps to make a planting pot out of a large pop or water bottle. And I wrote them a little letter explaining that I love the environment and Earth Day is a celebration of that! And that’s why I’m giving them this little package.¬† Then I stapled a packet of pea-seeds with instructions on how to plant them inside. So they can plant them in their bottle-pots.¬† The Earth Book was the perfect poem because I wanted to mention WHAT to do and HOW to do it.¬† Just perfect.¬† I also donated a copy to the class so they’d know where it came from and it would be less overwhelming to read in my package (because I realize¬†I made it a¬†little lengthy for some of the grade ones… the twos will be fine though).

Regardless of the success of my little Environment Package, you need to check out some Todd Parr books.¬† I was so reluctant because I’m not used to his style of artwork.¬† Very primary colour-ish.¬† Bold strokes, graphic pictures, unrealistic, and almost childlike. But I was missing out!!

He’s got:

  • The Peace Book
  • The Feelings Book
  • The Feel Good Book
  • The I Love You Book
  • The Family Book
  • The Grandma Book
  • The Grandpa Book

He’s got a bunch more… get to a bookstore!

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The Curious Garden

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

One boy’s quest for a greener world… one garden at a time.

While out exploring one day, a little boy named Liam discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world.

This is an enchanting tale with environmental themes and breathtaking illustrations that become more vibrant as the garden blooms. Red-headed Liam can also be spotted on every page, adding a clever seek-and-find element to this captivating picture book.

For Teachers: Themes of stewardship and the environment. 

Hachette Book Group (Curious Garden’s Publisher) has a great lesson plan for it. Take a look:¬†

It makes a great umbrella book for spring lessons, or character development.  Pair it with:

  • The Flower by John Light (I’ll post an AMAZING lesson for this book in the next few weeks)
  • Wangari’s Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter.
  • The People Who Hugged the Trees by Deborah Rose

And for non-environmental books:

  • The Goblin and the Empty Chair by Mem Fox
  • Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman and Caroline Binch

Obviously there are more… But I could go on forever. E-mail me if you want more recommendations.

For Parents: this is a great book to show off the value of taking initiative and taking responsibility. Also especially good for spring and gardening.  Teach them about caring for nature and respecting your plants.

Gift:¬† A great gift for anyone who has accomplished or is on the road to accomplishing something great on his or her own.¬† Show them the difference that one person’s actions can make.¬† (If you’re looking for a girl protagonist for female recipients, check out Wangari’s Trees of Peace -it’s a true story too!) Great for welcoming dreamers to the real world (as a graduation gift or something like that).

Remember, one person can make a difference!

To look inside and for our non-Canadian friends:

To order:

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