Books to Teach 
I am thrilled to be the guest over on Ramona Recommends today to share my top five favorite books used to teach Reading. My career in education started out for over a decade in the classroom. I taught first and second grade and spent a few years as a Reading Specialist before resigning to be home with my family and at the same time grow my book business. I took my love for children’s literature and started writing picture books with empowering messages (link to website) Since 2008, I have written six books with the seventh being released in just a few short months! I continue to teach as a visiting author to schools across the country and I also work with teachers and parents on how to teach reading and writing. In order to teach a child to read, we need to start with the basic strategies in order to decode words. Once children get these basic skills down, and in the process of learning these skills as well, we need to teach two important processes; fluency and comprehension. I recently interviewed a reading specialist in a brief 20 minute video about this same topic and she breaks it down in very basic terms for newbies to the world of teaching reading. So today I am not going to go through the basic skills of teaching to decode words and I am not focusing on fluency but on what I find to be a much harder concept for children to grasp as they get into more challenging text, comprehension. What’s reading if we don’t have the ability to remember important take aways such as theme from the book? I recommend that from the time children are preschoolers and you are reading TO them as a daily routine, you begin these conversations on comprehesion around the picture books you have chosen. Here are my top five favorites. As far as what ages I find these books appropriate for, I like to recommend picture books be used as mentor texts to launch a lesson in preschool all the way through upper elementary. Mentor TExt-4 Mental Images: I like to use A Bad Case of the Stripes by David Shannon to teach visualizing. It’s important for children to develop this strategy early on, being able to picture what is happening based on the descriptions given by the author in order to enjoy reading chapter books later in their journey of reading. Start by reading this book without showing the illustrations and have children illustrate what they hear. Mentor TExt-7 Making Connections: There are several ways to make connections. Starting with Text-to-Self connections, a child reads a book or hears a story and relates the character and their feelings to their own life. My No, No, No Day by Rebecca Patterson is a story that we can all relate to, having a bad day! Mentor TExt-6 Asking Questions: Asking questions before we read a story (after taking a picture walk through the pages) during reading and after the story is over all help us to comprehend what we are reading. The Empty Pot by Demi is a story that gets us thinking and asking questions. Mentor TExt-8 Inferring (Making Predictions): To infer is to predict what might happen based on clues in the story, in the text or based on what we know (our prior knowledge) The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and The Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood is a great story to teach this strategy. Mentor TExt-5 Problem and Solution: Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems is a favorite story in our household. There is a basic problem and solution for children to recognize during and after reading. Talk about different attempts that were made to solve the problem by the characters. Ask the question, have you ever had a similar problem? How did you solve it? Find out more about books I recommend over on Instagram.

Head over to Sparking in Second to see what Jen has in store for you!
Sparkling in Second

If you don't know, I love to sing and dance in my classroom. There is probably not a day that passes that I am not doing some cheer in my classroom. It is who I am. Luckily. most of my students have caught onto my vibe and chime in. I still have some wallflowers, but we are working on it! About a year ago, I was googling fun ways to learn. Literally, I typed in "fun ways to learn". I know quite the professional google search terms. I was not impressed with my results until I landed on is a website based learning program that engages students by song. The songs are done with a hip-hop vibe. The kids go nuts for the melodies and the content behind each song. It is guided for grades k-12. are always adding relevant and current topics. 

They have EVERY subject and pretty much a video for anything you are teaching. In fifth grade Social Studies, there is everything from American Revolution, 5 Themes of Geography, and a 50 states Rap. 

The songs are CATCHY! Yes, I am still singing the fraction rap from last week. Not only do they have raps, but they include activities to go with each video. Here is my favorite reading video and activity. 

Use this as assessment activity or for a flipped homework assignment. The ideas are endless. Do what is best for your teaching style. Any way you use these videos in the classroom the kids are bound to learn. Give it a try!!!

Are you interested in Flocabulary? I am offering a 75 day FREE TRIAL for you to check out the AWESOMEness of Flocabulary. All you have to do is click the picture below to get started TODAY!

Grab your laptop! Open to and Type:

You know when you read a book where you can feel the love on a page through every word?

 It is funny how it all started. I was browsing facebook one morning before work. I saw a post from a gal I went to high school sharing about her friend, a children's book author, Krista. Of course, I read further and saw Krista Boan had just published her first children's book. I knew she had to be a gem because Mandy who had gone to high school with is as sweet as a chocolate chip cookie. I reached out and shared my Ramona Recommends story. We instantly hit it off.  Today I want to share with you what I call a story from the heart. 

When I read this story, I could relate wholehearted because I feel the same way about people, my broncos, and about my profession as a teacher. This story is about a little boy who believes!  His team The Kansas Royals show GRIT and win the championship. The paintings inside this gem are breathtaking and make you want to NEVER NEVER NEVER Give Up. It makes you want to see your students that moment to share in the glory of a job well done. 

From the words of Krista Boan, "On November 3, 2015, a crowd 800,000 Royals Fans peacefully gathered in the heart of Kansas city to welcome home their world champions. Grab your Crown, head Downtown, and experience this inspiration celebration through the yes of a little one believes."


Interested in your own copy? I have ONE to give away. Leave a comment about your favorite picture book to teach informational writing! Winner will be selected Tuesday, February 9th.

Whenever I think of Groundhog Day, I always think of Bill Murray's movie, "Groundhog Day". That is the way it goes. Here are three books you can use in your  classroom to share your love of groundhogs. Real Talk- I wonder if anyone's favorite animal is a ground hog?


GroundHog's Day Off- Auditions are held for the important job of the Groundhog.

Groundhog Weather School- Kids can learn how animals and plants can help humans predict the weather for future months. 

Groundhog's Dilemma-Groundhog makes his friends believe he can control the weather, but it backfires.

I have no lessons to go with books, except this lesson. Sometimes it is just good to stop the day and read a picture book to your class. Open the Magic and let the pictures and words make memories for your students. They will remember the day their teacher just stopped the main grind and let them be a kid. 

*Amazon Links Were Used in This Post

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