From Wordless Book to Graphic Novel Using Speech Bubbles

For years teachers have been using wordless books to encourage creative writing with their students, but imagine putting a new spin on it by having students write dialogue and narration using a comic book format!  It’s easy when you use speech bubble sticky notes, and the same book can be used over and over again.

Here are two simple examples:

red book From The Red Book (Caldecott Honor Book) by Barbara Lehman

The Red Book crosses oceans and continents to transport one girl into a new world of possibility, where a friend she’s never met is waiting. And as with the best of books, at the conclusion of the story, the journey is not over!

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Students could even use this as a starting point for writing their own graphic novel sequel to show what happens to the boy who finds the book at the end of the story!

 

lion mouseFrom The Lion & the Mouse (Caldecott Winner) by Jerry Pinkney

A wordless adaptation of tne of the well-known Aesop fable, in which an unlikely pair of animals learn that no act of kindness is ever wasted.

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Students studying fables could use this activity as inspiration to re-write other fables as comic books.  In this video, Jerry Pinkney offers an explanation of the thought process behind the book:

 

Of course, not all wordless books lend themselves to speech and/or thought bubbles, so you need to choose carefully.  Here are some others that would work well for the graphic novel format:

girl and the bicycle The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

“A little girl sees a shiny new bicycle in the shop window. She hurries home to see if she has enough money in her piggy bank, but when she comes up short, she knocks on the doors of her neighbors, hoping to do their yard work. They all turn her away except for a kindly old woman. The woman and the girl work through the seasons, side by side. They form a tender friendship. When the weather warms, the girl finally has enough money for the bicycle. She runs back to the store, but the bicycle is gone! What happens next shows the reward of hard work and the true meaning of generosity.”

chalk Chalk by Bill Thomson

“A rainy day. Three kids in a park. A dinosaur spring rider. A bag of chalk. The kids begin to draw. . . and then . . . magic! The children draw the sun, butterflies, and a dinosaur that amazingly come to life. Children will never feel the same about the playground!”

 

secret box The Secret Box by Barbara Lehman

The story of what happens when three children find a secret box that was hidden long ago, and travel across town and across time on a puzzling adventure.  It’s up the the reader to interpret the ending, and to imagine what happens next.

Click here for additional teaching suggestions for this book.

farmer and the clown The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee (who I LOVE!)

“A baby clown is separated from his family when he accidentally bounces off their circus train and lands in a lonely farmer’s vast, empty field. The farmer reluctantly rescues the little clown, and over the course of one day together, the two of them make some surprising discoveries about themselves—and about life!”
Click here for an interview with Marla Frazee about the book.  And don’t miss this blog post from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast filled with artwork (and pre-artwork) from the book!

 

 

bluebird Bluebird by Bob Staake

The story of a beautiful but brief friendship between a lonely boy and a cheerful bluebird.

Click here to view the artwork for this award-winning book.

 

unspoken Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole

“When a farm girl discovers a runaway slave hiding in the barn, she is at once startled and frightened. But the stranger’s fearful eyes weigh upon her conscience, and she must make a difficult choice. Will she have the courage to help him?”

Here is Henry Cole “reading aloud” from the book.  This is a great introduction to show students how to think about and interpret a wordless book.

You can find more resources for using graphic novels in education on my Comics in the Classroom Symbaloo board.

You and your students can easily cut sticky notes into speech/thought bubble shapes.   (Just be sure not to cut off the sticky part!)  If you’d like to purchase pre-cut speech bubble sticky notes, here are some that I found online:

 

Can you recommend other wordless books that students could use to write narration and dialogue?  Please share in the comments!

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Read Aloud Memories

World-Read-Aloud-Day-2014The topic this week for the World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) blogging challenge is:  What is your earliest or fondest memory in which someone read aloud to you?

It’s hard for me to remember my earliest read-aloud experiences, because my mom and dad read aloud to me from the time I was a baby.  I feel so blessed to have been surrounded by books all my life, and to have parents who were readers themselves.  As a young child, I read aloud to my dolls, my cat, and my baby brother.  I was raised in a home where sharing books was an everyday part of life.

charlottes webA more specific memory is of my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Holden, reading aloud to our class.  I loved Mrs. Holden; she was young and pretty, she wore fashionable clothes and shoes, and she was so kind and funny!  She read many books to us, but the one that stands out in my mind is Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.  Every day after lunch she would perch on her stool, facing us as we sat in our desks, and read to us about Fern and Wilbur and Charlotte and that nasty yet strangely fascinating rat, Templeton.  When Wilbur received his special award at the fair, we all rejoiced; and when Charlotte died alone, we all cried together.  I don’t remember any of the phonics worksheets I completed that year, but I will never forget that special reading time.

As teachers we need to remember that it’s not enough just to teach kids how to read; we need to teach, model, and promote a love reading as well, because there may not be anyone at home who is doing that for our students!

read-across-americaIt just so happens that World Read Aloud Day is on March 5 this year, which is the day that our school is celebrating Read Across America Day.  Therefore, our read-alouds will all be Dr. Seuss books!  In addition to teachers reading, we’ll be bringing in guest readers from the community, and we hope to bring in some middle school students to share books with some of our elementary kids.  It’s a half day of school for us, and we plan to make it a pajama day for our students and have read-in sessions throughout the school.  What could be more fun?!?

 

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Library Advisory Team – My Partners in Literacy

So thrilled to have my 2013-2014 Library Advisory Team in place!

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I can best keep the lines of communication open with the teachers in my school, and I believe that an advocacy team will be the most effective way to do that.

I shared my main reading goals for the year in a previous post, and next Monday I’ll be discussing some of those plans with my new team so that we can decide on the best ways to implement (or modify) them.

Thank You!Thinking about starting your own advisory group?  Click here for more details about my program.

I’d love to hear how you are working with teachers in your school.  Please leave a note in the comments sharing your advocacy program!

p.s. There were codes inside the bags of candy bars I bought to enter online so that the candy company will make a donation to RIF!  How cool is it that?!

 

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Reading Plans for the New School Year!

It’s that time again when I begin to feel a tingly excitement about the all the possibilities of a brand new school year!

Last year, with the support of my principal and a new flexible library schedule, I focused heavily on collaborating with teachers and supporting them in implementing the Common Core curriculum.  I will certainly continue that this year, but I also want to spend devote more time and effort to building a school-wide culture of reading.  One of my most important roles as a school librarian is to be a “reading cheerleader” and I have several new ideas for doing that.

I have already noted a variety of local, national, and international reading events on my school library calendar (you will see them in red), and I will spend the next two weeks rounding up teacher and parent volunteers to help with planning and execution of these programs.  Ideas that aren’t scheduled yet but that I’m working on creating include:cocky reading express

 

  • a visit from Cocky’s Reading Express (“Cocky” is the University of South Carolina mascot.  He travels around the state with USC students who read to school kids and share the importance of reading.)
  • a Teacher Book Club that involves reading and discussing chapter books that would make good classroom readalouds
  • a Family Reading Night that allows children and parents to enjoy reading activities together
  • a Reading Partnership program between our students and students from the middle school next door
  • Bedtime Stories at the Library for our Kindergarten students (and possibly a separate night for 1st graders)
  • Wee Bee Reading – a monthly story time for the 2-3 year-old siblings of our students (the name comes from the fact that our school mascot is the Busy Bee)
  • mandatory “sustained silent reading” time in the classroom each day to provide students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in pleasure reading

book buzz new logoI also want to encourage students to participate more in online book discussions via my Book Buzz blog.  I’m thinking about asking students to write guest posts for the blog to talk about their favorite books and authors.  I’d also like to see more teacher participation in the blog, so maybe I’ll ask for some guest posts from them too.

What innovative ideas are you using to build excitement for reading at your school?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

 

 

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Read It Forward Week 2

Then and Now

As part of World Read Aloud Day, book lovers are being asked by event organizers at LitWorld to participate in a 4-week blogging challenge.  The instructions for this week are to…

Answer the following questions twice. The first time, answer how you would have when you were 10 years old (or any age from elementary school that you remember clearly) and the second time, answer in the present.

Here are the questions and my answers:

1. I think everyone in the world should read…

When I was 10:  as much as they want, whenever they want.

Now:  as much as they want, whenever they want.  Some things never change!

 

 

2. If I could listen to anyone in the world read aloud to me it would be…

When I was 10:  my dad, because he didn’t read to me as much as my mom did, so when he took the time to sit down and share a book it was really special.  He didn’t keep up with what was being published for kids at the time, so he stuck to the classics, like Tom Sawyer.

Now:  author and storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy.  I heard her in person one time and she was phenomenal!  She’s funny, she can do lots of different voices, she has great pacing and timing, and she has so much passion for the stories she tells.  She’s my role model for reading aloud in my library!

3. When I read aloud, my favorite character to impersonate is...

When I was 10:  I liked to do the wicked stepmothers and stepsisters in fairy tales so I could use [what I thought was] a haughty, refined voice.

Now:  I like doing the character of “Baby Blair” from the book Somebody and the Three Blairs by Marilyn Tolhurst.  The voice I use sounds a lot like Baby Bear from Sesame Street, and whenever I read in that voice I invariably have kids laughing and imitating it.  It’s actually the voice I use for all babies and baby animals because it’s so much fun to see the reaction I always get from kids!

5. The last book I wish I’d written or inspired me to write my own story is…

When I was 10:  All books inspired me as a writer when I was young.  Creative writing was one of my favorite subjects all through school.  If I have to choose just one though, I guess it was Little Bear written by Else Holmelund Minarik and illustrated by Maurice Sendak.  One morning my second grade teacher asked everyone to write a story during class.  Instead of making up my own story, I just wrote down the first chapter (“What Will Little Bear Wear”) from Little Bear – from memory! – and turned it in.  I guess I thought my teacher wouldn’t recognize it!

NowWhen You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.  The intricate plotting just blows me away.  I’ve written about this book twice at Book Buzz, my children’s book blog for my students, and it’s the only time I’ve ever written about a book twice.

 

4. The genre that takes up the most room on my bookshelf (or e-reader) is…

When I was 10:  mysteries.  I had the whole collection of Nancy Drews.

Now:  mysteries.  I have the whole collection of a variety of great mystery series.  I told you, some things never change!

 
Image: ‘books in a stack (a stack of+books)
Found on flickrcc.net
 
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Literacy Cafe in My Library

Let me tell you about the special event I hosted in my school library last Friday for our first grade students!

When the teachers told me they were doing a Kevin Henkes author study, I suggested a Literacy Cafe as a culminating activity.  They were thrilled with the idea of extending the learning beyond what they could do in the classroom.  The teachers read and discussed the “mouse books” with their students ahead of time, and showed the author video from the Kevin Henkes website.  They also chose the two crafts they wanted the students to make.

I planned two Cafe sessions as follow-ups to the books shared in the classroom, and two other sessions to introduce new Henkes books to the students.  And of course, it wouldn’t be a Cafe without food!  We asked parents to send in Cheez-Its and juice pouches as a snack.  I dressed up as Lilly, and my assistant dressed as Owen.  We put up a temporary Kevin Henkes bulletin board, which we changed later to display student work, and we were ready to celebrate!

I was thrilled with the level of thinking and discussion that was going on in our small groups (5-6 students in each), and the kids enjoyed being able to actively participate at each station.

You can find links to the all resources I used on our school webpage (the Schedule of Activities lists which 1st grade ELA Common Core standards each activity meets), and you can see the “highlight video” on my Book Buzz blog.

I’m already looking forward to the next one!

 

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