I’ve been away from daily classroom life for awhile now. But in the fall, all that changes as I slowly dip my toes back into teaching through a maternity leave sub position. I can’t tell you how excited I am. Every time I entered into a bookstore and browse, I thought about how I could use these books in a classroom with kids. I have bought many a title with the disclaimer “when I go back, I’ll use this.” So without further ado, my picture book ten for ten are the 10 books I am bringing into the classroom with me to use the first week of school! My first ten read alouds! 






I want to use this book by Stacy Mcanulty to have students start to write about themselves! 





This book, aside from being funny and delightful, will be used to start thinking about what kind of classroom community we want to create. 




Piggybacking off of my number 2 book, this title will help continue the conversation about community and empathy.  



I love this quiet simple book, it will help us to learn about each other and our names and where they come from with this story. 

I love this quiet simple book, it will help us to learn about each other and our names and where they come from with this story. 




I believe in reading out loud every day. I also believe in writing every day. This mentor text will help supper both of those beliefs!  




I like students to think about themselves and all the different roles they take on during the school day, scientists being an important one!




So much we could do with this book. Inflection, punctuation, how to read pictures, how pictures affect how we read a book. I read this to my pre-reading son over vacation and immediately he took it and started to read it out loud on his own, trying out different ways to read the word DUDE!




We all need quiet sometimes. I was able to pick this up early at our local art museum as they have a display of dePaola’s work. It won’t be released until October!! 




I love this book to start exploring other places besides the one we live in. Books connect us to others and this one is an excellent example of how to do that. 




I read this one to the class already when they had a Move Up day in the spring. They’ve already heard it. But the power of rereading is magical. I can’t wait to see what they notice about this text this time around.  



Thanks for checking out my first ten read alouds! Counting down to the first day of school.  

Lazy Hazy Days

It’s been a awhile since I’ve done one of these! Here is some summer photo inspiration for you! Maybe it will help kickstart your WIP. 




Something to keep you afloat.  



Ancient animal with stories to tell. 





Ocean vibes.  



Washed ashore.  



Mournful calls. 



Magical wings. 



As always, happy writing! And if you use any of these photos to help your writing process let me know!  

I think in picture books...

I think in picture books, in page turns, thirty-two pages and around fifteen beats. I think in  rules of three and repetition. I pull snippets of dialogue from the air around me to save and hoard for a day when it will fit in just right into a place where I need it. I think in picture books, in wordless double page spreads and endpapers. I think in pacing and predictions and how everything sounds when read aloud.  I think in that final twist, that wink to the reader. I think in bedtime-under-the-cover, surrounded-by-stacks books kind of reading. I think in picture books.  


What about you? What do you think in?  




This is my first year participating in Picture Book 10 for 10. Probably because it's my first year having a blog! Anyone who knows me knows how much I love picture books. Every one I read becomes a favorite. The books I picked for #pb10for10 are picture books that I think are perfect examples of the picture book format and structure, the ones I read and happy sigh when they are done because they just embody what a picture book is (to me!) And of course if I did this tomorrow, I'd have a completely different list! 

1. There's NO Such Thing as a Dragon by Jack Kent



An oldie but a goodie. This one stands up to the test of time and is pretty much perfect.  

2. Boats for Papa by Jessixa Bagley


This book makes me cry every time I read it out loud. If that's not impact I don't know what is! 

This book makes me cry every time I read it out loud. If that's not impact I don't know what is! 

3. The Silver Button by Bob Graham



Bob Graham really can't do wrong for me. He could write my to-do list and make it sound interesting. This book captures one minute of one day and it's brilliant!  


4. This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers  



If I could only have one Oliver Jeffers book on my list, this is the one I would pick. When I teach my Writing Children's Literature course, this is one of the books I use every summer to illustrate what a picture can do. The voice, the plot, the twist at the end! All of it is spot on. 

5. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown



While I think The Curious Garden is my favorite Peter Brown book, Mr. Tiger pulls me in every time. The use of color in this one I think is particularly important.  

6. Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes


I have a soft spot for books that fit in well with classrrom curriculum and this is one that fits so well. Not to mention the stunning illustrations by Beth Krommes and Sidman's science writing is lovely. 

7. This House Once by Deborah Freedman


I think this is Deborah Freedman's best book yet! It's simple, yet poignant. It's quiet, but its message is loud.  Love this one. 


8. Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads by Bob Shea and illustrated by Lane Smith



This might be my favorite book of all time. Maybe. It's that good. Funny and fun. Can I use the word brilliant again? Because it is.  


9. I'm New Here by Anne Sibley O'Brien



This one is a relatively new title to me.  If a picture book's job is to connect us and to help us learn about others, then this one is top of the list for doing that. It's a very important book. Read it and share it.

10. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Peña illustrated by Christian Robinson


This one may be obvious. Christian Robinson might be one of my favorite current illustrators. This one won a Newbury and a Caldecott and while awards shouldn't matter, a picture book is a marriage of text and pictures. This does that perfectly, so much so it won prestigious awards for both! I love it so much I have both a hard copy and a soft cover. :)


Thanks for checking out my Picture Book 10 for 10 list! There are so many amazing books, it was hard to narrow down to just ten titles. 

Road Trip


On Friday, I am going to throw my bags into the car and set off to New York for the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) Winter Conference. I’ll swing through western Massachusetts to pick up a writing friend who has become a friend friend.  And I’ll navigate the streets of NYC before finding our hotel (hopefully GPS will be my hero). I am excited for this weekend.  Let me tell you why.


My first SCBWI conference was seven years ago. I registered on a whim while holding a new baby in my arms. Maybe it wasn’t really a whim though,  I had googled SCBWI for the past 6 months at all hours of the night (since I was awake all hours of the night with a newborn). I had always wanted to write for kids and had decided to do something about it. People kept mentioning SCBWI to me and I had finally worked up the courage to check it out.


I arrived in New York with my husband and tiny baby to stay in the world’s smallest hotel room on the coldest weekend of the winter (and I’m from New Hampshire). I had no idea what I had signed myself up for. In retrospect, I should have attended one of the smaller regional conferences first, but there I was in New York City with 1,000 other people who wanted to write for children. Even though I was completely overwhelmed, I was hooked. The speakers, the knowledge, the community, everything about it made me want more.


Fast-forward to a few years later, I went to New York again to the winter conference.  This time with some writer friends in tow, I wouldn’t be so alone.  I just wasn’t aware that the Norovirus had struck my household and after arriving in the city came down with extreme shakes and fever and stomach pains for 24 hours. So if you were at the conference circa 2012, I’m apologize if you left with an unexpected souvenir! Even though I had to keep retreating to my hotel room to lie down, I still left inspired and motivated.


This year, seven years after attending my first ever SCBWI winter conference in NYC, I am headed back again without new babies, without a stomach virus (fingers crossed), without that deer-in-the-headlights look. I am headed back knowing some familiar faces in the crowd and knowing 200% more about children’s literature and the publishing world.


I still google “what to wear to a children’s literature conference” and “what to bring to a SCBWI conference” obsessively just in case things have changed though. In case there are other people like me out there, they haven’t. Wear what you feel comfortable and good in. Be yourself. The Gala Dinner does not require a cocktail dress.  Bring your notebook to scribble notes and ideas in. And, yes, still bring business cards even though it’s 2017. Most importantly, bring your love of children’s books and you’ll have something in common with everyone in the room.